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NORTHROP FRYE Across the River and Out of the Trees The first issue of the University of Toronto Quarterly appeared in 1931. Its appearance was not exactly a breathtaking novelty: Queen's Quarterlyand the Dalhousie Review were already in existence, and there had even been an earlier version of the Quarterly itself. But it was an important historical event none the less. The opening editorial statement attached the journal 's traditions firmly to those of the 'gentleman's magazine' of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was not to be a speC ialized learned journal: there were already enough of those, the editor implied, perhaps meaning that there were too many. Nor was it to be an outlet for creative talent in poetry or fiction:it published a poem or two at the beginning, but .pologized editorially for the digression. It tried to cover a broad spectrum of academic interest for a while, but soon restricted itself in effect to the humanities, though it did not acknowledge this by calling itself 'A :::anadian Journal of the Humanities' until some years later. Within a very ;hort time it had inaugurated 'Letters in Canada' as an encyclopaedic :ritique of everything published in Canada, so for all its exclusion of )oetry and fiction it clearly had no intention of slighting the Canadian :ultural scene, much less ignoring it. There were some remarkable people first associated with the journal. rhere was G.S. Brett, the first editor, a philosopher of vast erudition Nhose History of Psychology is still a standard work on the subject. There ' Nas E.K. Broadus, one of an extraordinary group of scholars in Alberta, md an early Canadian anthologist. There was Pelham Edgar, interested nainly in what was then contemporary fiction, author of a pioneering vork on Henry James, and deeply concerned with Canadian writing as veil. There was E.K. Brown, whose book on Canadian poetry was crucial n consolidating the sense of the context and tone of Canadian poetry up o that time. There was Watson Kirkconnell, whose prolific output and antastic linguistic abilities enabled 'Letters in Canada' to include a survey ,f Canadian writing in languages other than English and French, all of vhich he could read. A malicious but admiring legend said that when he .ecame president of Acadia he took to shaking hands with his left hand so IS not to interrupt his writing. An early issue contained an article by (irkconnell on 'Canada's Leading Poet: who according to Kirkconnell 2 NORTHROP FRYE was Stephen Stephansson, a poet living in Manitoba and writing in I Icelandic up to his death in 1927. ' I was preoccupied with getting through my sophomore year when the I Quarterly first appeared, and I should perhaps not have been aware of its existence for some time if Brett and Edgar had not been teachers of mine. II If I adopt a personal, even to some extent an autobiographicat tone in I' . what follows, the reason is not simple egotism or garrulity: one needs a I point of view for a survey, and a personal point of view is the obvious one j for a surveyor who has lived entirely within the territory he surveys. In Il retrospect, the Quarterly's early editorial policy decisions seem to me to I have been prophetic of my own interests in criticism, and objectified Ii. much of what I have tried to do since. They also seem to me to mark a,! most significant cultural change, which was among other things a change I I " in the university's relation to society, and which was already taking place, , in Canada as elsewhere. : The learned journals the Quarterly was separating itself from belonged 1 mainly to the philological tradition, with its headquarters in nineteenth- j century Germany, that had dominated American scholarship for half a ' century. The scholars who wrote in them generally knew the standard ' classical and modern languages, and for the most part did not include , contemporary literature in their purview - at least not as scholars, what-I ever their general lev.el of cultivation. Their scholarship thus gave thei' impression of being an activity independent of the creative life of their...


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