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establish a poetics of found poetry on the thin foundation of a few works. Wolfgang Kloos offers a competent survey of Wiebe's concerns in fashioning The Scorched-Wood People, but his critical assessment is more descriptive than analytical, and has very little to add to the earlier studies he cites, by Keith, Bilan, and Solecki. While reading Gaining Ground, one is repeatedly struck by how familiar an alert reader of Canadian literature will be with many of the points made so earnestly here. In conclusion, this text can be recommended primarily as a valuable resource tool. All the critics are respectful visitors and observers, and two have remained here as tangible proof of the possible bridging between European criticism and Canadian literature. Not all ground gained is lost, therefore, and we may see in this anthology a collection that enhances our knowledge about our literature and its reception beyond our borders. Though Gaining Ground is not indispensable, it is both interesting and encouraging to fmd that others do see us and know where we are - not so very far away. As Berkeley might say to Borges, esse est percipi. (JOHN J. O'CONNOR) Rick Salutin. Marginal Notes: Challenges to the Mainstream Lester and Orpen Denny 1984. 314. $12.95 paper Marginality is a pervasive modern theme adumbrated in turn by the alienated romantic hero, the existential outsider, and the deconstructive critic's paradox of textual margin and centre. Rick Salutin's interest in the subject, while retaining some romantic traces, is political and moral. In these essays on Canadian culture, he treats marginality as a psychological and intellectual malaise imposed by colonial self-doubt and powerlessness , but also as a vantage point permitting radical criticism. The'one central reality' of our era is 'the global fact of imperialism,' and Salutin's aim is to displace its false values (bourgeois liberalism/the new conservatism ) in order to assert a new centre that is authentic, just, fun and 'fully human.' In this view, marginality is not an unavoidable philosophical plight, but a political problem to be solved, in part at least, by clarifying the daily obfuscations of 'mainstream' thought. Marginal Notes does not really undertake so large a task. In its miscellaneous articles, written between 1970 and 1983, it offers a series of pinpricks, not an orderly critique. Its Marxist analysis amounts to little more than occasionally asserting the axiom that culture reflects a given economic infrastructure. Meanwhile, Salutin blends memoir, journalism, commentary, and satire in a style that is relaxed and conversational. The best articles are personal rather than theoretical. His theory often seems questionable, or at least demands far greater support than he gives it. But his own intensity and dedication are never in doubt. In view of his HUMANITIES 155 mistrust of bourgeois individualism, it may seem ironic to praise him for displaying his personality; yet he is most interesting when he presents himself confronting a subject, not as a detached critic, but as an engaged artist and citizen. His main interest - the relation of art and politics - is then posed as a vital problem. Depending on the topic, his attitude is concerned, informed, amused, sardonic, indignant, but always committed . He considers himself, not egotistically, but in relation to a larger issue: 'the complex connections between art, politics, being Canadian, being Jewish, regional cultures, the middle class and the working class, the past and the present: For example, he describes how he became a writer in Canada, awkwardly finding his proper place amid American examples, family background, and Canadian institutions (CBC, NFB, Stratford, Canada Council). In view of these influences, his prefaces to 1837 and Les Canadiens have wider cultural significance, although they remain revealing accounts of a dramatist shaping his ideas to the demands of theatre, the skills of specificactors, the ideology he espouses. He recounts his visit to Mozambique, where he discovers the marginal observer cannot be impartial, but is challenged by what he observes. While he is sympathetic to the Frelimo cause and quite enthusiastic about its progress, the authorities there clearly use him to serve their own ends. His day-by-day account reveals how utterly different colonialism is in Canada or Quebec (women...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 154-156
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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