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returned from Paris he was deathly ill. He recovered, and seems to have abandoned his passion for travel. By his own admission he became a writer shut up in his own private universe - compelled by an intrusive psychosexual erethism that directed the course of his writing. Sutherland tries to make a case for Glassco as an important poet, though to my mind his own critical reservations undermine this. In fact Glassco's talent was for attention and reaction; his intellect was absorptive. He seemed at his best in the role of observer, gifted at the epiphany which synthesizes the complicated inflections of a moment of total perception. He needed to move at large in the world and his withdrawal seems in my mind to have stunted him. It's curious that in Canada we are not much interested in literary biography, in charting the artistic environment that provides the medium for the artist's psyche. I am as much interested in the aesthetic shape of Glassco's life as a writer as in his work. And Iam grateful to Sutherland for his insistence that we look again at this most extraordinary paradoxical writer who is both eccentric and central to our tradition. (ROSEMARY SULLIVAN) Robert Lecker, Jack David, and Ellen Quigley, editors. Canadian Writers and Their Works. Poetry Series. Volumes 5 and 9 ECW Press. 350, 288. $40.00 each volume No publisher has taken a grander view of its role in serving the cause of Canadian literary criticism and bibliography than ECW Press. No editor, critic, or scholar has cast a larger shadow over the whole field of Canadian literature than George Woodcock. Bring the two together and you have Canadian Writers and Their Works, a 'twenty-volume collection of critical essays covering the development of Canadian fiction and poetry over the last two centuries: each volume to include'a unifying Introduction by George Woodcock and five discrete critical essays on specific writers.' Serious students of Canadian literature who grew into their studies in the barren years of the forties and fifties or earlier may still gasp a little at the scope of such ambition, even with ECW'S massive Annotated Bibliographyof Canada's Major Authors already here as an established and well-advanced project to help acclimatize them. Woodcock himself, if he reflected on his own experiences planning the first issues of Canadian Literatureback in the late fifties, as now thirty years later he added one more to his far-ranging contributions to the subject he helped to invent, must have felt the urge to pinch himself in disbelief. Volumes 5 and 9 ('Other volumes in the series will be published as research is completed') are further evidence of ECW'S ability to recruit scholars of energy and ability, young and old, established and relatively HUMANITIES 171 new, and harness their talents. But the consistent format of the ten chapters (Biography; Tradition and Milieu; Critical Overview and Context; Works; Selected Bibliography) is deceptive. Sometimes these scholars see their job as providing a simple, comprehensive survey ofa life's work and its reception - an advanced introduction to the serious studyof an author. Sometimes they seize the opportunity to pursue a pointofview, a thesis, a new or corrective interpretation, producing articles of the sort we might expect to fmd in the journals. Sometimes they engage in a deep, complex dialogue with an author's philosophy or vision, leaving the reader to overhear what he can. For some, the editorial format receives passing or token adherence. For none, it seems, is it unduly inhibiting: and for that reason the volumes are all the less predictable and the more original and engaging. Woodcock, who oversees this venture in his general introductions, not unexpectedly is at his most comfortable and assured. His placing of the five poets of volume 5 in their 'tradition and milieu' is deft, as he indentifies Birney, Layton, Dudek, Waddington, and Souster as poets influenced by that'other 1940S strain, deriving from the acceptance of an American rather than an English strain of neo-modernism.' While recognizing the diversity of these poets, Woodcock dares to suggest a deeper connection: the themes of world-wandering, travel, discovery run through their...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 170-173
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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