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458 LEITERS IN CANADA 1979 Occasionally O'Flaherty's tendentiousness gets the better ofhis critical judgment, as in the case of E.). Pratt whose work, it seems, is vitiated by his decision to leave Newfoundland for Ontario. Such boasting about Newfoundland - so patently contrived when one realizes how easily he broke his ties with the colony once he got the chance to leave for Ontario - can be found in poetry written long after the derivative Rachel. In the poem 'Newfoundland,' the title poem for Newfoundland Verse, we can sense the same kind of strutting poetic mentality that was apparent in the earlier work: Here the tides flow, And here they ebb; Not with that dull, unsinewed tread of waters Held under bonds to move Around unpeopled shoresMoon ยท driven through a timeless circuit Of invasion and retreat; But with a lusty stroke of life Pounding at stubborn gates, That they might run Within the sluices of men's hearts -lines which prompt the retort that the tides ebb and flow in Newfoundland in much the same manner as they do elsewhere in the North Atlantic. The uniqueness of Newfoundland is not demonstrated by this kind of braggadocio . Neither, one is tempted to add, is the uniqueness of Pratt demonstrated by this kind of critical intemperance. On the whole, however, O'Flaherty's critical instincts are razor-sharp and his evaluations convincing. Best of all perhaps (and what greater praise can be accorded to a literary historian?), he makes one wish to read the books he discusses. His descriptions and analyses of the fiction of R.T.S. Lowell, Norman Douglas, and Margaret Duley, for example, create a vivid sense of the ethos which helped shape these books and give a just estimate of their worth as literature. (JAMES DOWNEY) Dick Harrison, editor. Crossing Frontiers: Papers in American and Canadian Western Literature University of Alberta Press. 174 . $10.00 In beginning his essay'Across the Medicine Line' (in The Westering Experience in American Literature, Western Washington University, 1977) HUMANITIES 459 Dick Harrison noted: 'When I began to compare Canadian and American western fiction, I found there was a good deal of geography to get through before I could concentrate on the literature: Geography was but one of Harrison's problems. Beyond the attitudes a people takes to its definitive landscape, there are the differences between America's revolutionary and Canada's evolutionary experience, between the exuberance of Manifest Destiny and the staid orderliness of colonial development , between the American reverence for individualism and Canada's more conservative concern for the individual's relation to his community and environment. As Harrison makes clear, we must compare geographies , national experiences, patterns of settlement, intellectual heritages and histories, national and regional mythologies, and distinctive attitudes to freedom, law and order, and the land if we are to undertake a fruitful study of the literatures of the North American West, in particular, the literatures of the shared plains and grassland that were often in the nineteenth century mistrustingly labelled 'the Great American Desert: Crossing Frontiers is the immediate result of Harrison's pioneering initiative in this intriguing and growing area of study. It is in fact a landmark book, containing the papers, responses, and overviews which comprised the 1978 Banff conference of the same name that Harrison adeptly organized. As those who were fortunate enough to attend that conference will readily recall, these historical and literary essays are generally of a high quality - readable, enjoyable, well-documented, and thought-provoking. Henry Kreisel called them 'the most listenable I have ever heard at a conference: Even on paper, removed from the enthusiastic , celebrative ambience of the event itself, they hold up well, especially in conjunction with the intelligent, lucidly critical responses they elicited . Nevertheless, in the long run the book's importance will lie as much in the event it commemorates (and the various impetuses Crossing Frontiers set in motion) as in the text's contents. Like Harrison's seminal'Across the Medicine Line: Crossing Frontiers takes up the complex task of investigating and seeking to define the issues, problems, and potentialities involved in comparing the American and Canadian Wests. Max Westbrook called it 'a beginning, an...


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