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Ernest Buckler

Rediscovery and Reassessment

Marta Dvořák

Publication Year: 2001

Margaret Atwood called Ernest Buckler “one of the pathbreakers for the modern Canadian novel,” yet he has slipped into relative obscurity. This new book by Marta Dvořák, Ernest Buckler: Rediscovery and Reassessment breaks new ground in Canadian literary studies by analyzing some of Buckler’s works that have remained unknown or unexplored by critics, and by addressing the formalistic innovations of these texts. It allows a general readership to discover — and an international specialized readership to reassess — the wide, even eclectic scope of an author best known for his first novel, The Mountain and the Valley.

Marta Dvořák situates Buckler firmly within his cultural and intellectual environment. She argues the importance of his connections with Emerson and the American transcendental milieu, and demonstrates his links with Romantics such as Schopenhauer and Shelley and modernists like Joyce, Faulkner, and Mansfield, as well as intellectuals from Aristotle to Aquinas. She explores his philosophical vision and his complex, adventurous relationship with language. Extracts from Buckler’s published and unpublished material juxtaposed with those from a wide range of writers (from Henry James to Foucault) offer new illuminating perspectives.

The progressive structure of the book will draw readers in to discussions on shared concerns: the nostalgia for a vanished past, the relationship between family and community, the rural and the urban, or the questioning of, and coming to terms with, ethics and the social fabric of today’s rapidly changing technological horizon in which traditional values are eroding.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I am grateful to the Canadian government's Department of External Affairs for the initial grant that made the research for this book possible, and to the International Council for Canadian Studies for the foreign Canadianists' grant allowing its publication. My thanks also go to those who made the research trip as productive as possible: Claude Bissell for his warm ...

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pp. 1-12

When The Group of Seven mounted their first public exhibit at the Toronto Art Gallery in May 1920, their forceful, vibrantly colourful paintings of Canadian wilderness shocked an art world accustomed to the European legacy of gentle refined landscapes. Although visitors called the works "disgraceful," fit only ...

Part One

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Chapter 1. "A Literary Giant Scorned?"

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pp. 15-28

Halifax already had its books, newspapers, and magazines when much of the rest of what is now Canada was still unsettled by Europeans. Although Nova Scotia holds a position of chronological primacy in the intellectual development of English Canada,1 Maritime writers tend now to be marginalized on the literary ...

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Chapter 2. The Publishing History and Reception of Buckler's Major Works

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pp. 29-60

The account of the genesis of Buckler's production (beginning in the 1930s) and its subsequent reception in the United States and in Canada would be useful even outside of a study of textual evolution. Exploring, understanding, and confronting the reactions to Buckler's texts of his professional environment (agents, ...

Part Two

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Chapter 3. Buckler's Ontological Commitment

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pp. 63-100

Like many North American artists and writers in the first half of the twentieth century, Buckler was undoubtedly originally influenced by Emerson and his transcendentalist movement, which in turn was influenced by and interacted with the European Romantics. Emerson maintained a privileged ...

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Chapter 4. The Word and the World

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pp. 101-126

Michel Foucault has pointed out that humanity's original relationship to texts was identical to its relationship to things, consisting in both cases in perceiving, decoding, and interpreting visible marks or signs and their correspondences. A symbolic perception of the world persisted until the Renaissance and beyond: Nature was God's book, in ...

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Chapter 5. Aesthetics and Ethics

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pp. 127-153

... the essence or form behind all things. I have shown how Buckler's philosophy is grounded in the neoplatonic concept that the beauty of the world is a reflection and projection of ideal Beauty, and that it involves apprehending the supernatural connections that exist between the object and the cosmos. In this ...

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Chapter 6. Arcadia and Death

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pp. 153-190

In the preceding chapter, I attempted to define Buckler's elaboration of an aesthetic philosophy based not only on ontological considerations but also on an ethical vision committed to transmitting ultimate truth and a perception of the divine order. In this chapter, I shall show the dynamics of his aesthetics at ....

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Chapter 7. The Rhetorical Phenomenon: Occupying the Interspace Where Subject and Object Are Joined by Language

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pp. 191-228

When the young Buckler was discovering literature and beginning to write, the formalistic innovations of modernists such as Joyce, Eliot, Woolf, Stein, Mansfield, Forster, and Faulkner were at their height. Certain writers such as Ezra Pound, Hemingway, and the early Faulkner, were part of a movement promoting ...

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pp. 229-232

Writers such as Margaret Atwood and Margaret Laurence have acclaimed Ernest Buckler to be an innovator, calling him "one of the pathbreakers for the modern Canadian novel" and "a genuine pioneer in Canadian writing."1 Why should a large number of ...


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pp. 233-248

Works Cited

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pp. 249-260


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pp. 261-270


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pp. 271-279

E-ISBN-13: 9780889208223
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889203549
Print-ISBN-10: 0889203547

Page Count: 287
Publication Year: 2001