The Daughter's Way
Canadian Women's Paternal Elegies
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
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The work of turning a series of questions into a book requires the attention and good will of many people over a numbers of years, and I must thank those who provided me with their assistance, scholarly and personal, during the years that I thought about, researched, composed, and revised this book. ...
Part One: The Daughter’s Way
Introduction - Who Could Not Sing: Elegy and Its (Female) Discontents
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I blame it on Milton. And given the opportunity, who would not? More specifically, I credit an early encounter with Milton’s “Lycidas” with awakening my questions about consolation as a possibility and the elegy as a genre, and for eventually nudging me towards thornier questions about female elegists...
1 Elegy and Authority: The Daughter’s Way
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The elegy’s ongoing negotiations in the twentieth century make the poetry of mourning a contentious literary space, even more so when the tensions of gender and nationalism are factored into this rich literary mixture of affect and authority. Luckily, elegies are constitutionally audacious; the act of elegizing is, to a greater or lesser degree, an act of authorization...
Part Two - Daughters of Jove, Daughters of Job: Canadian Modernism’s Bloody-Minded Women
2 Jove’s Daughter: Dorothy Livesay’s Elegiac Daughteronomy
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Before looking at the paternal elegies that grew out of Dorothy Livesay’s struggle with her father’s critical and creative influence, I want to consider the autobiographical impulse in poetry and its place in the kind of political elegiac practice that is the subject of this volume. ...
3 “So Much Militia Routed in the Man”: P. K. Page’s Military Fathers
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In The War of the Words, the opening volume of Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s three-volume study No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, the authors suggest that the devastation of the two world wars on European and North American society placed male fragility and modernist literary daughterhood in a matrix that was...
4 “Absence, Havoc”: Jay Macpherson’s Rebellious Daughters
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Harold Bloom notes in The Anxiety of Influence that a younger male poet—an ephebe—establishes himself as the rightful inheritor of a senior poet’s legacy by composing an elegy that underscores his stance as the writer most appropriate and most able to enact (and eventually, to best) the artistic ideals of his literary father (15–16). ...
Part Three: Differently Conceived Nations: The Mourner’s Journey
5 “Do What You Are Good At”: Margaret Atwood’s Authorizing Elegies
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Margaret Atwood’s contributions to paternal elegiacs cannot be viewed as discrete from her contributions to Canadian literature and criticism, although it would be an error of equal magnitude to consider her paternal elegies from 1995’s Morning in the Burned House as nothing more than continuations of elegiac narratives and tropes that she has been exploring...
6 The Pilgrim and the Riddle: Anne Carson’s “The Anthropology of Water”
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Almost every elegy could be described as a literary journey through the genre’s conventions, or as an affective charting of the path through mourning to arrive at consolation. However, using a discovery-oriented journey as a metaphor for mourning practice presents a number of problems. ...
7 Gateway Politics, Grief Poetics: West Meets West in Kristjana Gunnars’s Zero Hour
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West as the space of opportunity, west as philosophical destination: the two quotations above suggest a dichotomy about ideas of the West as the great good place in North America and, more significantly, about the state of mind that accompanies the decision to travel west—into the sunset, towards the edge of the continent, and perhaps beyond everyday experience. ...
Part Four - Furies and Filles de la Sagesse: Language and Difference at Century’s End
8 Signature, Inheritance, Inquiry: Lola Lemire Tostevin’s Cartouches
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In The English Elegy, Peter Sacks cautions that an elegist must engage in “frequently combative struggles for inheritance,” including the possibility that he may need to “wrest his inheritance from the dead” (37). When Jacques Derrida asserts in Specters of Marx that inheritance is a task, he stresses the performativity of inheritance...
9 Elegy of Refusal: Erin Mouré’s Furious
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Reading Lola Lemire Tostevin’s Cartouches as a text that is seriously mischievous in its defiance of Derrida as the master/father while seriously devoted to grieving the loss of Achilles Lemire introduces ways to think about the female elegy in the context of experimental poetics. ...
Conclusion: From the Water
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The painting by Canadian artist Erica Grimm-Vance that appears on the cover of this volume is titled Whatever you hear from the water, remember. It is part of a series of paintings called Metaxu, and from the moment I saw it, I was struck by how the painting shows productive melancholia at work. ...
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Publication Year: 2012