In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

narrative: 'the suffocating pressure ofliterary tradition' (p 16), the lack of transparency and innocence in writing (p 20), and the fact of a reader's being the producer rather than the consumer of a text (p 32). One must be shown how this awareness affects the rhetoric of his fiction. This is not to imply that the theories of Barthes, Derrida, Bloom, and others should not be applied to Lowry's fiction. However, if the critic chooses to deploy a theoretical vocabulary, he has an obligation to show how intertextuality, for example, actually functions in the fiction, how Lowry betrays an anxiety of influence. Binns drops the relevant post-modernist cliches and then, with an inadvertent sense of both bathos and inflation, proceeds to discuss Lowry's dramatization of 'antago,1istic Weltanschauungen' - 'the man of action' versus 'the man of comtemplation' (pp 21-2) . In his discussion of Under the Volcano Binns rightly points out that the novel involves 'an interpretation and overlapping of the magical and the social historical, the metafictional and the realistic, the world of the book and the world of the reader ... naturalism and dream' (pp 59-60). He concludes that the novel is a 'resistant artefact' which confronts the reader with 'absolute opacity or, conversely, a baffling plurality of meanings' (p 62). Thus, 'to talk about levels of meaning in Under the Volcano is to imply hierarchies of meaning. But encyclopedism is a narrative mode which resists the privileging of meaning' (p 63). It is one thing to aver that Under the Volcano, with its 'surplus of signifiers' (p 64), resists totalizing interpretations or even the establishing ofhierard1ies of meaning: it is quite another to demonstrate, as Binns does not, how the hierarchies deconstruct themselves, how the ·meanings contradict and supplement each other, how the clash between the referential and rhetorical levels of discourse produces undecidability, leaving the reader in the aporetic double-bind of trying to master a text that has no boundaries. To embrace a post-modernist vocabulary only to affirm that Under the Volcano is elusive, ambiguous, and polysemous is to affirm in abstruse language what everyone already knows. In this regard, Binns's critical vocabulary lacks practical significance; it is a blindness with no concomitant insight. (GREIG E. HENDERSON) Fraser Sutherland. John Glassco: An Essay and Bibliography ECW PRESS '984. 121. $8.95 PAPER Canadians are often characterized as earnest and unrelievedly highminded , and Canadian literature is sometimes read as though it were written in a sober monotone - a distortion that overlooks much, but particularly the Trickster Figures, those'fantastical dukes of dark comers' who line the tradition, from James De Mille to Elizabeth Smart. Iconoclasts, outsiders, outrageous, they are as elusive as they are compelling. Fraser HUMANITIES 169 Sutherland has reclaimed one such trickster for our attention: John Glassco, a wonderful paradox of a man - cultured, confessedly hedonistic, a translator, essayist, editor, and poet who wrote pornography. John Glassco: An Essay and Bibliography is offered modestly as an introduction. In fact, because Sutherland's essay is only thirty-six pages it can be little more, though the annotated bibliography directs the reader deftly, making the book an indispensable point of initiation to Glassco's work. Still, one wants more, since Sutherland tantalizes with his adept survey. The Glassco he recovers is a writer of remarkable sophistication who shaped his life to meet aesthetic dictates. A precocious assumption that a person is his own invention, a distinctive style, drove Glassco to Paris at the age of eighteen. His famous record, Memoirs ofMontparnasse, which he claimed to have begun in Paris and completed in Canada in the early thirties, Sutherland reveals to have been written, for the most part, in retrospect thirty years later. (Glassco always said that his father's ferocious attachment to truth made him an accomplished liar at an early age.) Memoirs is still astonishingly vivid, a remarkable book, perhaps because Glassco lived his life as narrative. The character he wrote himself into is delightful - a naive hedonist, uninhibited, impious, motivated by total appetite. That the book was written at such distance in time only proves Glassco to have been perfectly chameleon, absorbing every nuance of environment. His book...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 168-170
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.