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HUMANITIES 171 significance and suggestion. This technique encourages us to look for what Kroetsch calls the 'text beneath the text, an everlasting grope into the shape of that darkness.' Like the author composing his novel, we seek the ordering themes and principles that give coherence to the apparent randomness of his comments. One organizing agent in The Crow Journals is simply the voice of the author. It is inquisitive but hesitant, puzzled by itself but pleased with its own eloquence. Kroetsch deprecates his talent even as he tries to muster it in order to write his novel. In short, he speaks in the voice of a writer fascinated by the nature and power of his artistry. He turns a seemingly haphazard diary into a carefully drawn self-portrait of the artistundertaking the essential task of his life. Because his writing arises from his varied experiences, he must examine his past, roots, loves, and friends to see how they have contributed to his work. Ultimately his concern is the paradoxical relation between his life and his work, that is, between artist and artefact, history and story, truth and fiction. He sums up the relation in a series of paradoxes and oxymorons. The writer must 'learn to be naive'; 'I invent my theory of the uninvention of the world'; 'I am the merest vehicle, the tool, of my novel's ambition'; 'The only way 1can write poems / is by not being a poet.' The last example is presented as a poem, as if to deny (or confirm) what it states. There is a certain delight in being contrary in such comments, but they do contribute to a consistent - and fundamentally Romantic - view of the artist and the imaginative truth he expresses in fictions that are themselves distortions of the facts of his life. From his life the writer creates a verbal universe that takes on a life of its own. The Crow Journals, therefore, is an account and demonstration, not just of the composition of one novel, but of the craft and inspiration of fiction generally. (JON KERTZER) Maurice Lemire, editor. Dictionnaire des CEuvres litteraires du Qutbec. I: Des origines It 1900; II: 1900 d 1939 Fides 1978; 1980. lxvi, 918; xcvi, '363. $35.00; $45.00 The publication of the frrst two volumes of the Dictionnaire des lFuvres litteraires du Quebec is a capital event in Canadian letters. This compendium of writings in a wide variety of areas (treating 'CEuvres litteraires' broadly and including, particularly in volume I, essays, travel accounts, biographies, works of history and geography, song collections - indeed, individual sheet music - as well as the traditional literary genres) will be a vital source of information for researchers, cultural historians, teachers and students, and just curious readers. Faced with this mass of data, analyses, bibliographies, and comparative chronologies, the reviewer 172 LETI'ERS IN CANADA 1980 has before him an embarrassment of riches and finds it hard to stop long enough to take stock of the enterprise as a whole, and to devour article after article without end. Volumes I and 11 will be followed by a third, covering the period from 1940 to 1959, and a fourth, dealing with publications that appeared between 1960 and '975. Each of the volumes published to date begins with an introduction by Maurice Lemire of Laval University, which aims at presenting a synthesis of the major socio-cultural developments in Quebec in the period covered. Against this background the evolution of the diverse genres is studied in global fashion. Although volume I covers the enfue period up to 1900, the introduction deals, in fact, solely with the nineteenth century, leaving aside the French regime, although works that appeared before the tum of the nineteenth century are of course covered through the individual articles. Each volume contains at the end useful bibliographies of literary works (indicating which ones are covered in individual articles and which carry a biographical note on the author), reference works consulted by the compilers, critical studies, a list of the contributors and the articles they have prepared, another of the abundant illustrations, and finally an index of all names cited therein. The aim of individual articles is to evaluate the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 171-174
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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