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HUMANITIES ] 79 In A Feminist Poetics, this section reads: UltimatelyI female space - space thatexists in time - prevails.... By implication, pure spatial aesthetics, the humanist ordering of space, and the patriarchal myth of the hero who conquers disorder are also discredited. The land here is metaphorically both female and primitive.It is the raw material ofart and sexual relationship. (P 23) Apparently Davey did not always see Atwood as so myopic about male and female relations. Indeed, in 'Lady Oracle's Secret' he concluded that Atwood's novels speak'in a more meaningful way than the mere issues of women's liberation, ecological preservation, or literary nationalism' (p 164). However, by the time Davey came to A Feminist Poetics he had changed his mind. Not only has he gone back and rewritten his previous work on Atwood to show that she is 'gender specific' in her writing, but he now also argues that she is unlike many Canadian writers in being so (p 164). It would be a mistake to dismiss as false or artificial Davey's feeling that Atwood has erred in not choosing form more suited to the substance of her 'feminist poetics' or, more accurately, an aesthetics that Davey has extracted from the 'female' values he fmds repeated in Atwood's work. While one might question whether these comprise a feminist aesthetics, it is more interesting to note that these are also the values that have been associated with Davey's own literary school, the TISH movement. Davey's insistence that Atwood, as a feminist, must break free offormal restrictions is also his own paramount position as a 'process' poet. Perhaps the issue offeminist poetics has obfuscated the real nature of Davey's book. He has written a critical examination based on process poetics. This is a Significant step in Canadian criticism and one that should have been clearly announced. For Davey is right: Margaret Atwood does seem to argue for process writing, particularly in her later work - but much of her writing has remained, in technique, part of a literature and culture about which she has strong doubts. (DONNA BENNETT) Susan Stone-Blackburn. Robertson Davies, Playwright: A Search for the Self on the Canadian Stage University of British Columbia Press. 249ยท $27.95 Although his lover's quarrel with Canadian theatre has resulted in nearly twenty plays over four decades, Robertson Davies is known to the public primarily as novelist, scholar, wit, and magical incarnation of the archetype of the wise old man. In this long and detailed study, Susan Stone-Blackburn attempts to adjust the critical balance and affirm his achievement as dramatist. Her enthusiasm for her subject is attractive and her research is diligent. In particular, the circumstances surrounding some amateur productions of the early plays make amusing and instructive reading. The chronological organization of the book highlights the continuity of Davies's drama. His themes are essentiallytwo: the life-diminishingelementsin much EnglishCanadian culture; the life-enhancing mythology of Carl G. Jung. StoneBlackburn rightly observes: 'The two themes, the cultural and the Jungian, are in fact aspects of the same concern: a need for balance and wholeness on the national and individual levels.' The book is unsatisfactory not because of the statements it makes but because of the questions it fails to ask. Davies's later and more ambitious plays, his dramatization of Leaven ofMalice, Question Time, Pontiac and the GreenMan, have not been notably successful on stage. No theatre has ever undertaken to present General Confession, in the opinion of StoneBlackburn and Davies himself his most potent play. Why? Is it simply a matter of theatrical fashions and unimaginative producers, or must we inquire further? Are there not recurrent formal problems as Davies seeks to combine a realistic vein of social satire with an expressionistic exploration of the individual psyche? Is there not a damaging contradiction in his celebration of the intuitive well-springs of experience through dialogue which is all logic and high rhetorical artifice? Does not the playwright, for all his strengths, too often seem wanting the mysterious power of negative capability, giving us the words of a character but not his voice? 'If a man wants to be of the greatest...


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pp. 179-180
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