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Intersections between Canadian Literature and Film

David R. Jarraway

Publication Year: 2013

Over the past forty years, Canadian literature has found its way to the silver screen with increasing regularity. Beginning with the adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God to the Hollywood film Rachel, Rachel in 1966, Canadian writing would appear to have found a doubly successful life for itself at the movies: from the critically acclaimed Kamouraska and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz in the 1970s through to the award-winning Love and Human Remains and The English Patient in the 1990s. With the more recent notoriety surrounding the Oscar-nominated Away from Her, and the screen appearances of The Stone Angel and Fugitive Pieces, this seems like an appropriate time for a collection of essays to reflect on the intersection between literary publication in Canada, and its various screen transformations. This volume discusses and debates several double-edged issues: the extent to which the literary artefact extends its artfulness to the film artefact, the degree to which literary communities stand to gain (or lose) in contact with film communities, and perhaps most of all, the measure by which a viable relation between fiction and film can be said to exist in Canada, and where that double-life precisely manifests itself, if at all.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

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Table of Contents

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pp. 7-10

Beyond the National-Realist Text: Imagining the Impossible Nation in Griersonian ?Actuality? and Social Protest in Dorothy Livesay?s Sisters in the Wilderness: Mythologizing Catharine Parr Traill 139?Triumph? in the Backwoods: The CBC?s Take on Moodie and Traill in The Director?s Medium: Richard Attenborough?s De-Authorization of ...

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pp. 11-22

...?Canadian cinema is a cinema of otherness. The debate concerns the mean ing of this As the photo still on the cover of this essay anthology makes clear?Holly-wood actor and director Paul Newman busy at work filming Margaret Lau-rence?s novel A Jest of God (1966) for a larger mass audience as Rachel, Rachel (1968)?for the past four decades, Canadian writers have been witnessing ...

Part One: Realism and its "Others"

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Beyond the National-Realist Text: Imagining the Impossible Nation in Contemporary Canadian Cinema

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pp. 25-38

...?Nation? and ?realism? are two of the most contested terms in contemporary film studies, not least in critical discussions of Canadian cinema. Film theo-rists have argued that the study of national cinemas reinforces reactionary nationalistic ideologies and is, in any case, increasingly irrelevant in the age of globalization. Similarly, the aesthetics of realism, as developed in much early ...

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Griersonian “Actuality” and Social Protest in Dorothy Livesay’s Documentary Poems

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pp. 39-58

It is widely acknowledged that Dorothy Livesay?s poetics underwent a dra-matic transformation during the Depression era. In 1931, the poet moved to Paris, where she encountered a climate of mass unemployment and state repression and witnessed various scenes of police brutality against worker organizations (RH 36). Moved by these experiences, she became commit-...

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“Stunning and Strange”: Iceland as Memory and Prophecy in Alice Munro’s “White Dump” and Sarah Polley’s “Away from Her”

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pp. 59-76

Alice Munro?s second-most recent collection of stories, The View from Castle Rock, explores her family?s emigration from Scotland to the colony that would later become Canada, and depicts the population and development of this country from the perspective of her own ancestors. The collection marks the culmination of a career-long interest in ancestry, genealogy and parentage for ...

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Maddin, Melodrama and the Pre-National

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pp. 77-94

Although our focus in this paper is on Guy Maddin?s recent trilogy, Cowards Bend the Knee (2003), Brand Upon the Brain (2006) and My Winnipeg (2007), we begin with a statement that Maddin has made about one of his films from the 1990s, Careful, because Maddin?s protest here against national contain-ment seems applicable to his entire oeuvre. Guy Maddin once remarked ...

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Dialogic Phantasy in Bruce McDonald’s Adaptive Narratives

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pp. 95-110

Bruce McDonald?s literary adaptations consistently undermine the singu-larity and authority of his own narratives. His embrace of what he calls ?split screen crazy [and] expressionistic? techniques in The Tracey Fragments and Hard Core Logo break up the finality and closure of the narrative (Halfyard n. pag.). In this way, the films use their medium to trouble narrative certainty, ...

Part Two: Adaptation, For Better or Worse

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Reading Canadian Film Credits: Adapting Institutions, Systems and Affects

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pp. 113-138

What makes a ?creditable? film adaptation? On one level, textual fidelity seems less important than fiduciary responsibility. To explain by way of a reductive distinction between opening and closing film credits: In the Hol-lywood production model, opening credits signify ?above-the-line,? marquee investments aimed at ensuring a profitable return at the box office. A star?s ...

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Sisters in the Wilderness: Mythologizing Catharine Parr Traill

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pp. 139-152

Often called (at least by me) the ?grandmothers of Canadian literature,? Catharine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie came from the talented Strickland family of England, six girls and two boys. Six of the eight siblings became pub-lished writers, but, of the girls, only Susanna and Catharine braved the emi-grant?s journey to the colony of Canada, following their brother Samuel, to ...

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“Triumph” in the Backwoods: The CBC’s Take on Moodie and Traill in Sisters in the Wilderness (2000)

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pp. 153-168

In one scene of the CBC version of Sisters in the Wilderness: The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill the camera pans across a dimly lit winter landscape of snowy fields and barren trees while the voice-over narrator com-ments, ?During her first Canadian winter, Susanna Moodie had cried with the cold. Now the Moodies can laugh at it.? Off camera, a man?s voice ( John ...

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The Director’s Medium: Richard Attenborough’s De-Authorization of Grey Owl

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pp. 169-182

...?Most aspiring authors get their punishment at the very outset; mine, no doubt, will come later when it will hit the hardest, and I am waiting for the crash any time Richard Attenborough?s 1999 film Grey Owl raises a series of questions about its relation to its subject and, in the process, the relation between cinema and literature. While the film purports to be ?based on a true story,? it never identi-...

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Narrative Structure and Narrative Voices in The English Patient: Film and Novel—A Comparative Study

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pp. 183-198

Ondaatje?s novel is characterized by its complex narrative structure, which includes multiple shifts of timeframes and narrative voices. Although many aspects of the film are radically different from the novel, the overall effect of the film is extremely powerful, thus illustrating George Linden?s commentary: ?A successful adaptation of a novel should not be the book. Nor should it be a ...

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Loser Wins: The Rhetoric of High Modernism in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

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pp. 199-218

Happy Bar-Mitzvah, Bernie, the film-within-the-film in Ted Kotcheff ?s 1974 filmic adaptation of Mordecai Richler?s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1958), provides a satirical, yet informative, glimpse into the elitist rhetoric and cultural intimidation necessary to sustain the niche market economies of modernist cultural production (Rainey 1996; 1998; 1999). Duddy?s intense ...

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Why They Cannot Get It Right: A Reader’s Notes about Richler on Screen

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pp. 219-228

This paper appeared as a result of reading a film review in which Joe Wiesenfeld, a scriptwriter for the adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s St. Urbain’s Horseman, remarked upon completing the project: “For the sake of the country, we wanted to get this right, and I think we have” (qtd. in Hays n. pag.). This ambitious statement leaves a viewer of the film who happened to have read...

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“[I]t’s my nature”: A Comparison of Hagar Shipley’s Pride in The Stone Angel Novel and Film

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pp. 229-244

Since its publication in 1964, Margaret Laurence?s novel The Stone Angel con-tinues to occupy a secure place within the body of Canadian literature.1 One attestation of this fact is its appearance on numerous ?best of ? lists such as the Literary Review of Canada?s 2006 list of the top one hundred books writ-ten in this country in the past 460 years (?460?).2 Further, although it was not ...

Part Three: Identity: "To Be, or Not to Be"

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Why Sex Matters in Canadian Film and Literature

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pp. 247-258

Why does sex matter in Canadian film and literature? It?s a really intriguing question to get lost in for the better part of a year. And one that?s surprisingly difficult to pin down; the minute you think you?ve got a handle on one part of the argument, another promising avenue of exploration opens before you?beckoning with promises of everlasting fulfilment ? only to deflate after a ...

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The Nature of Things: Coupland, Cinema and the Canadian Sixties and Seventies

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pp. 259-276

Since 2002, Douglas Coupland has produced a series of works (several art installations, two books and a film) that examine Canadian cultural identity through the presentation and manipulation of ordinary, everyday objects, most of them culled from the recent past. In gathering together objects, the full force of which, he claims, can only be felt by Canadians (things ranging ...

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Adapting Men to New Times? Engagements with Masculinism in John Howe’s Why Rock the Boat?

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pp. 277-298

English-language versions of Canada?s ?cinema of male crisis,? as critics such as Thomas Waugh term it, were initially understood by evoking the largely unspoken but debilitating psycho-social effects on men of Canada?s colonial relations with Britain or its neo-colonial relations with the United States and linking these effects to the expression of crises in Canadian national identity ...

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Filming Music: Adapting Transnational Sound in The English Patient and Fugitive Pieces

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pp. 299-316

Michael Ondaatje?s The English Patient and Anne Michaels?s Fugitive Pieces are novels written through music. Music not only informs plot and characteriza-tion, but also reflects the culturally hybrid spaces inhabited by the charac-ters.1 It is not that music becomes nation-less, but rather that music in these novels has the ability to cross over and permeate borders; hence, it represents ...

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“Something’s missing”: Exploding Girlhood and Narrative in The Tracey Fragments

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pp. 317-332

The public sphere is constituted in part by what cannot be said and what cannot be shown. The limits of the sayable, the limits of what can appear, circumscribe the domain in which ? speech operates and certain kinds of subjects appear as viable ?Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence In Maureen Medved?s The Tracey Fragments, a fifteen-year-old girl, naked ...

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pp. 333-336

...tania aguiLa-Way is a S.aS.aH.aR.aC-holding PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa. Her work focuses on modernist and contemporary Canadian lit-erature, with an emphasis on writing that speaks to Canadian experiences of imperialism and globalization. Her PhD thesis examines the intersection of bioscientific and environmental culture in the writings of Shani Mootoo, ...


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pp. 337-362

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Reappraisals: Canadian Writers

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pp. 363-366

Reappraisals: Canadian Writers was begun in 1973 in response to a need for single volumes of essays on Canadian authors who had not received the criti-cal attention they deserved or who warranted extensive and intensive recon-sideration. It is the longest running series dedicated to the study of Canadian literary subjects. The annual symposium, hosted by the Department of Eng-...

E-ISBN-13: 9780776619880
E-ISBN-10: 0776619888
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776607795
Print-ISBN-10: 0776607790

Page Count: 366
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Reappraisals: Canadian Writers