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HUMANITIES 475 US this 'true photograph of the exterior person' Carman may well have given us his best writing. (GERMAINE WARKENTIN) Dennis Duffy. Gardens, Covenants, Exiles: Loyalism in the Literature of Upper Canada/Ontario University of Toronto Press. x, 160. $25.00; $10.00 paper In his Preface to Gardens, Covenants, Exiles Dennis Duffy acknowledges that 'the idea for this study came from two of its subjects, George Grant and Hugh Hood: And in his conclusion (entitled 'Envoi') Duffy reveals that his attempt at 'pinpointing one of the cultural forces that gave Ontario its sense of place' represents 'an act of faith: 'an act of hope' that 'sustains' him in the face of 'loss and the prospect of loss, the fall of traditions of civility: Gardens is therefore framed by reference to three writers who share a profoundly religious (and frequently post-lapsarian) vision of Canada: Grant, Hood, and Duffy. Indeed, Duffy brings to his criticism many of the concerns associated with Grant's theologically inspired cultural commentary and Hood's visionary fiction: a lament for the passing of traditions, a confrontation with potential gardens destroyed , an attempt to formulate an awareness of the rituals we have lost (and those we have retained) as identifying tags in a troubled culture. For Duffy, as for his mentors, these concerns are persistently interiorized: the fate of Canada becomes a metaphor for the fate of an individual anxiously confronting the gap between his present and his past, his own 'embattled paraelise: his own uncertain occupation of the place he calls his own. When these uncertainties are treated in religiOUS terms as they are in Gardens - the individual's relation to society becomes a test of faith. Duffy explains that 'the Loyalist myth: which survives in fragmented forms today, 'took on the configuration of the Christian process of agony, defeat, and resurrection: The critical myth developed in Gardens follows a similar process, so that in the end Duffy allows himself to 'pass into the realm of theology, and state without argument my belief that nothing is ever lost: This belief prompts Duffy to test the pervasiveness of the Loyalist ethos and to seek reassurance that 'the ancestors are still with us, and in that sense they continue to assert a vision of continuity and relevance: On its most powerful level, then, Gardens analyses the literature of Upper Canada/Ontario in terms of a metaphorical quest for meaning and faith derived from what is tellingly described as 'a symbolic pattern of explanation and narration laid upon the stark facts of defeat, exile, endurance, and final mastery of a new land: The pattern is 'symbolic' because Duffy establishes a subtle web of parallels between his private 476 LETTERS IN CANADA 1982 search for faith and his literary search for a Loyalist consciousness based on faith triumphant. So when he tells us that he is interested in 'a particular cast of mind that grows not only out of historical experience but more important out of the reworking of that experience' we sense that the most important 'cast of mind' studied here is Duffy's - the reworker's - own. By assimilating the historicallliterary experience at the heart of his study Duffy assumes the position of one who, like his Loyalist models, became 'a born and bred outsider' attempting to deal with 'pain and loss.' To approach Gardens purely as a critical document is therefore to miss the far-reaching implications of its title and subject matter. In reconstructing the Loyalists' 'embattled paradise' Duffy engages in the process of structuring himself, his text, his world; by resurrecting these Loyalist works, even as he admits their failures, Duffy discloses his own tentative celebration of an exiled tradition which paradoxically gives him voice. And even as he wrestles with those covenants at the centre of a displaced past he remains aware that through the very act of naming these covenants another fragment of his milieu is inevitably destroyed. 'Even to discover the garden: he tells us, 'is to begin to destroy it.' What forms does this destruction take? Duffy examines the formulation and subsequent breakdown of the Loyalist myth in such figures as William Kirby, John Richardson, Charles Mair, W.W...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 475-476
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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