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The Canadian Modernists Meet

edited by Dean Irvine

Publication Year: 2005

The Canadian Modernists Meet is a collection of new critical essays on major and rediscovered Canadian writers of the early to mid-twentieth century. F.R. Scott's well-known poem 'The Canadian Authors Meet' sets the theme for the volume: a revisiting of English Canada's formative movements in modernist poetry, fiction, and drama. As did Scott's poem, Dean Irvine's collection raises questions - about modernism and antimodernism, nationalism and antinationalism, gender and class, originality and influence - that remain central to contemporary research on early to mid-twentieth-century English Canadian literature. The Canadian Modernists Meetis the first collection of its kind: a gathering of texts by literary critics, textual editors, biographers, literary historians, and art historians whose collective research contributes to the study of modernism in Canada. The collection stages a major reassessment of the origins and development of modernist literature in Canada, its relationship to international modernist literature, its regional variations, its gender and class inflections, and its connections to visual art, architecture, and film. It presents a range of scholarly perspectives, drawing upon the multidisciplinarity that characterizes the international field of modernist studies.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers


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pp. v-vii


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pp. ix-xii


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pp. xiii-xv

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pp. 1-13

F.R. SCOTT'S portrait of modernist disconsolation calls attention to the contingencies of literary history, the variant lines of an emergent cultural movement. When "The Canadian Authors Meet" first appeared in the McGill Fortnightly Review in April 1927, Scott's "very picture of disconsolation" situated the Canadian modernist poet in a far corner of postwar...

North of Modernism: Montreal Toronto Unreal

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"New Styles of Architecture, a Change of Heart"? The Architexts of A.M. Klein and F.R. Scott

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pp. 17-58

In "Like an Old Proud King in a Parable," the symboliste lyric that AJ.M. Smith first published as "Proud Parable" in December 1928 and subsequently used as a prefatory piece in all his collections of poems, the creation of a modern Canadian poetic persona and stance is closely allied to the creation of a new imaginative place and habitation. In "anger to be...

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Mapping Raymond Souster's Toronto

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pp. 59-75

That the city is an essential component of literary modernism—as image, as site, as trope—has long been accepted in modernist studies. As Michel de Certeau most succinctly notes, the city "is simultaneously the machinery and the hero of modernity" (155).1 In Europe, this would include the London of Mrs. Dalloway, the Dublin of Ulysses, and the Paris...

Native, Cosmopolitan, Post-Cosmopolitan

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Moonlight and Morning: Women's Early Contribution to Canadian Modernism

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pp. 79-99

WHEN ARTHUR STRINGER described the rhyming poet in his preface to Open Water (1914) as "pathetically resplendent in that rigid steel which is an anachronism and no longer an armour" (5), he used a masculinist and military discourse. To read the table of contents in Louis Dudek and Michael Gnarowski's book The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada, described by the...

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Sheila Watson, Aboriginal Discourse, and Cosmopolitan Modernism

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pp. 101-116

SHEILA WATSON'S work has been insightfully discussed in both modernist and postmodernist terms. This essay will aim to enhance our understanding of the influence of cosmopolitan modernism in the writing of The Double Hook. No doubt there is an irreducibly diverse range of modernisms, and what cosmopolitan modernism will signify in this context demands initial...

Eclectic Travellers: From Peterborough to Paris

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A.J.M. Smith's Eclectic Surrealism

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pp. 119-138

A.J.M. SMITH EXPLICITLY rejected any identification of his poetry with Surrealism. When a conservative reviewer of The Book of Canadian Poetry, William Arthur Deacon, casually identified him as a poet of the Canadian "surrealist school," Smith vituperated on Deacon's obtuseness in a letter to A.M. Klein1 and was still resentful thirty-five years later when he penned his...

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Samizdat Odyssey: Ulysses above the 42nd Parallel

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pp. 139-151

WHEN WE LOOK at the trinity of books on modernism that the late Hugh Kenner wrote after The Pound Era (namely, A Homemade World [1975], A Colder Eye [1983], and A Sinking Island [1988]) we note how each is, respectively, a study of American, Irish, and English modern writers. Given his Peterborough roots, one might wonder where Kenner's book...

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"a widening of the northern coterie": The Cross-Border Cultural Politics of Ezra Pound, Marshall McLuhan, and Louis Dudek

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pp. 153-177

THERE IS NO better measure of the ambiguity surrounding Canadian modernism than the fact that the only uncontested understanding shared by critics on the matter is an almost universal familiarity with the postmodernist position that we did not have any modernism in Canada: that, according to Robert Kroetsch, our literature evolved from E.J. Pratt's late...

Political Bodies: Stages and Stations, Casts and Broadcasts

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Modernism's Red Stage: Theatre and the Left in the 1930s

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pp. 181-204

THE SEMIOTIC FLEXIBILITY of the word "stage" offers a productive entry into the field of English-Canadian socialist theatre in the 1930s. On the one hand, the Depression era produced a theatrical encounter between modernism and socialism on stages organized by the Canadian left. On the other hand, this convergence catalyzed multiple aesthetic and ideological transformations, ...

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Dorothy Livesay, the "Housewife," and the Radio in 1951: Modernist Embodiments of Audience

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pp. 205-228

WHEN RADIO PROGRAMMING began in the early 1920s, radio's disembodied voice suggested to the public a live announcer's or entertainer's spatial proximity yet simultaneously drew attention to that person's corporeal absence. Radio's foregrounding of the voice at the expense of the body also produced the listener's sense of disembodiment. As late as 1939, modernist...

Modernism's Archives and Ledgers

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The Literary Archive and the Telling of Modernist Lives: Retrieving Anne Marriott

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pp. 231-249

LITERARY CRITIC DONALD BARTHELME speaks of "not-knowing" as instrumental in the production of fiction. He argues that "the scanning process engendered by not-knowing" frees the mind to move in "unanticipated directions" so that powerful "invention" may ensue (11). Barthelme's sense of the fecundity of a writer's "not knowing" is relevant to the writing of nonfiction...

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As for Me and My Blueprint: Sinclair Ross's Debt to Arthur Stringer

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pp. 251-272

CRITICS HAVE OFTEN called Sinclair Ross's As For Me and My House a pivotal text in our literature. Robert Kroetsch declares, for example, that "Mrs. Bentley...writes the beginning of contemporary Canadian fiction" (217). Ross's novel has certainly been the subject of some of Canada's most innovative and sophisticated literary criticism, and its influence on some of...

Beyond Impersonality

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Elizabeth Smart and Cecil Buller: Engendering Experimental Modernism

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pp. 275-303

THE WRITINGS OF Elizabeth Smart and the wood engravings of Cecil Buller tend to have a similar effect on readers and viewers. In both cases their works are discovered with a shock of recognition. The shock stems from the realization that these mature and accomplished works deserve a place in the modernist pantheon, and that they were produced by women who...

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The Hunger To Be Seen: The Mountain and the Valley's Modernist New Eyes

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pp. 305-330

IN THE LAST pages of Ernest Buckler's 1952 novel The Mountain and the Valley, the protagonist is accosted by the spectacle of his world made marvelously, simultaneously, explicit. As he draws near to the summit of the mountain he has been attempting to climb since boyhood, David Canaan approaches the omniscient point of view and the panoramic vision "towards which...

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Canadian Modernism, PK. Page's "Arras," and the Idea of the Emotions

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pp. 331-353

T.S.ELIOT'S DECLARATION in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" that poetry "is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion" (21) famously places the emotions under modernist suspicion, suggesting that the role they play in poetic composition ought to be carefully circumscribed. Good poets, Eliot affirms, should be able to transcend their...


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pp. 355-363

E-ISBN-13: 9780776617046
E-ISBN-10: 0776617044
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776605999
Print-ISBN-10: 0776605992

Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers