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A Theological Critique of the Narrative Strategies of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan
Is it possible to write an artistically respectable and theoretically convincing religious novel in a non-religious age?
Up to now, there has been no substantial application of theological criticism to the works of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan, the two most important Canadian novelists before 1960. Yet both were religious writers during the period when Canada entered the modern, non-religious era, and both greatly influenced the development of our literature. MacLennan’s journey from Calvinism to Christian existentialism is documented in his essays and seven novels, most fully in The Watch that Ends the Night.
Callaghan’s fourteen novels are marked by tensions in his theology of Catholic humanism, with his later novels defining his theological themes in increasingly secular terms. This tension between narrative and metanarrative has produced both the artistic strengths and the moral ambiguities that characterize his work.
Faith and Fiction: A Theological Critique of the Narrative Strategies of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan is a significant contribution to the relatively new field studying the relation between religion and literature in Canada.
The Poetry of Dionne Brand
The selections in Fierce Departures, drawn from Dionne Brand’s work since 1997, delineate with searing eloquence how history marks and dislocates peoples of the African diaspora, how nations, concretely and conceptually, fail to create safe haven, and how human desire persists nevertheless. Through a widening canvas, Brand unfolds the (im)possibilities of belonging for those whom history has dispossessed. Yet she also shows how Canada, and in particular Toronto, remade by those who alight on it, is a place of contingency. Known for her linguistic intensity and lyric brilliance, Brand consoles through the beauty of her work and disturbs with its uncompromising demand for ethical witness.
In her introduction, editor Leslie C. Sanders traces the evolution of Brand’s poetic concerns and changing vision. In particular, she observes Brand’s complex use of landscape and language to delineate the ethical and emotional issues around the desire for place. She argues that Brand reformulates Northrop Frye’s question “Where is here?,” disturbing and expanding the national imaginary.
As afterword, Brand has selected passages from her evocative collection of essays A Map to the Door of No Return. Read as an ars poetica, the passages summon the presences of those whose lives are circumscribed by the histories the poet narrates as her own.
The Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia
Mediation at Niagara Falls
In the early hours of April 22, 1914, American President Woodrow Wilson sent Marines to seize the port of Veracruz in an attempt to alter the course of the Mexican Revolution. As a result, the United States seemed on the brink of war with Mexico. An international uproar ensued. The governments of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile offered to mediate a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Surprisingly, both the United States and Mexico accepted their offer and all parties agreed to meet at an international peace conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario. For Canadians, the conference provided an unexpected spectacle on their doorstep, combining high diplomacy and low intrigue around the gardens and cataracts of Canada's most famous natural attraction. For the diplomats involved, it proved to be an ephemeral high point in the nascent pan-American movement. After it ended, the conference dropped out of historical memory. This is the first full account of the Niagara Falls Peace Conference to be published in North America since 1914. The author carefully reconstructs what happened at Niagara Falls, examining its historical significance for Canada's relationship with the Americas. From this almost forgotten event he draws important lessons on the conduct of international mediation and the perils of middle-power diplomacy.
We Made Our Own Fun
“When we were children we made our own fun” is a frequent comment from those who were children in pre-television times. But what games, activities and amusements did children enjoy prior to the mid-1950s?
Recollections of older Canadians, selections from writings by Canadian authors and letters written to the children’s pages of agricultural publications indicate that for most children play was then, as now, an essential part of childhood. Through play, youngsters developed the physical, mental and emotional skills that helped them cope with life and taught them to get along with other children.
In both rural and urban settings, children were generally free to explore their environment. They were sent outdoors to play by both parents and teachers. Their games were generally self-organized and physically active, with domestic animals acting as important companions and playmates. Children frequently made their own toys and equipment, and, since playing rather than winning was important, most children were included in games. Special days, holidays and organizations for children and youth provided welcome breaks from daily routines. Their lives were busy, but there was always time for play, always time for fun.
Norah Lewis has provided an entertaining view of the toys, games and activities in Canada and pre-confederate Newfoundland from approximately 1900 through 1955. Her book will be of interest to historians, educators and sociologists, as well as anyone who lived through, or wants to know more about,those early years in Canada, and the games children used to play.
La tentation autobiographique
Jamais réédité depuis sa parution dans les années 1930, ce grand roman de Marie Le Franc – par ailleurs récipiendaire du prix Femina en 1927 – apparaît au lecteur d’aujourd’hui comme la première incursion littéraire féminine dans la forêt nordique. Cette oeuvre déploie un fascinant imaginaire de la forêt, ici celui du lac Tremblant dans les Laurentides, qui se nourrit des paysages découverts lors des nombreux séjours de la romancière et des sensations vécues au contact d’une nature qui, sans être totalement hostile à l’être humain, n’en demeure pas moins extrêmement difficile à habiter. La radicale altérité de la forêt, qui se joue de rapports intimes et intérieurs, renforce l’intérêt contemporain pour cette oeuvre.
Postcolonialism, Pedagogy, and Canadian Literature
Canadian literature, and specifically the teaching of Canadian literature, has emerged from a colonial duty to a nationalist enterprise and into the current territory of postcolonialism. From practical discussions related to specific texts, to more theoretical discussions about pedagogical practice regarding issues of nationalism and identity, Home-Work constitutes a major investigation and reassessment of the influence of postcolonial theory on Canadian literary pedagogy from some of the top scholars in the field.
Letters from Rural Children, 1900-1920
“I am a girl, 13 years old, and a proper broncho buster. I can cook and do housework, but I just love to ride.”
In letters written to the children’s pages of newspapers, we hear the clear and authentic voices of real children who lived in rural Canada and Newfoundland between 1900 and 1920. Children tell us about their families, their schools, jobs and communities and the suffering caused by the terrible costs of World War I.
We read of shared common experiences of isolation, hard work, few amenities, limited educational opportunities, restricted social life and heavy responsibilities, but also of satisfaction over skills mastered and work performed. Though often hard, children’s lives reflected a hopeful and expanding future, and their letters recount their skills and determination as well as family lore and community histories.
Children both make and participate in history, but until recently their role has been largely ignored. In “I Want to Join Your Club,” Lewis provides direct evidence that children’s lives, like adults’, have both continuity and change and form part of the warp and woof of the social fabric.
Visions on Canada's Politics, Culture, and Economics