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HUMANITIES 501 not subordinate but primary assertions. For instance, such comments as those about 'the wholly unexamined' possessive tone in certain sentences in 'A Class of New Canadians' (p 20), the rhythm of Blaise's sentences in 'Eyes' (p 22), and the use of military language in 'Broward Dowdy' (p 41) tell us more about how a Blaise story really 'feels: in my view, than any discussion of the psychological dilemma of the central character, important as that may be. Concerned to show how 'ideas' develop through Metcalf's 'concentration on things: Lecker traces the evolution of Metcalf's aesthetic in the growth of his protagonists from boyhood, through adolescence, to manhood . Each stage, Leeker argues, 'is identified by increasingly self-reflective views of craftsmanship and written art.' Lecker is primarily concerned with meaning here, though not at the expense of either form or texture. But I wish more of his commentary were like his astute analYSis of the first paragraph of 'Early Morning Rabbits' (p 62) or his penetrating insight about the 'fictional river of time' in 'The Teeth of My Father' (p 88). Because 'Hood's stories are so complex: Lecker argues, he has chosen ,to discuss only one story - namely, 'Looking Down from Above' - and because it has become conventional to 'read what Hood and his critics say about Hood' rather than to react spontaneously to Hood's art, Lecker tries to escape such critical contexts in his reading of the story 'as a prose poem in its own right.' He does not succeed in escaping, however - as his references to the Psalms, to archetypal and typological symbolism, and to Hood's comments on the analogies between the secular and the sacred attest - because he really does not believe what he says. Lecker knows that our understanding of Hood's work would be less full without the critical contexts he professes to ignore, and because he really knows that all texts are borderless, he also knows that the story can still be treated as a prose poem without the necessity of ignoring critical contexts. Despite the implied misunderstanding of the polysemous nature of Hood's text in Lecker's critical stance, moreover, Lecker dramatically belies himself in his actual discussion of the story - one of the fullest and most imaginative responses we have to a Hood text, a lesson in reading, and one of the most brilliant critical performances we have in Canadian criticism. In fact, the Preface to this chapter is really a gratuitous ploy to allow Lecker to dilate freely on Hood's text. He does so magnificently . (BARRY CAMERON) George Bowering. A Way with Words Oberon. '99. $11.95 paper A Way with Words can easily become Away with Words; such a title perhaps embodies in itself the paradox of George Bowering's anti-rhetorical rhet- oric. These are his essays on fellow poets of the 1960s and 1970s: Avison, Reaney, Kiyooka, jones, Red Lane, Kearns, Newlove, Wah, Atwood, Davey, and Mcfadden. Though Bowering has also written illuminating essays on fiction (e.g. on Laurence's A Jest of God), none of these is included here. The collection begins well with a brilliant appreciation of Margaret Avison's religious art - perhaps the best piece that has been written about her work. Avison imitates Christ the artist, says Bowering, and finds the deepest significance of Incarnation in the here and now; her poems require that the reader also participate in a present reality. Bowering is equally eloquent about the problems posed by what he takes to be Northrop Frye's idea of the poet's role as expressed in The Educated Imagination. He is unhappy with poetry that seeks to impose human will on nature: he feels that the 'ordering ego hulks over Miltonic inversions' in the poems of jay Macpherson. But james Reaney is commended for having 'broken loose to make myth from local materials rather than spooning it on from the golden bowl of literary materials.' Myths must be discovered in the matter of living, not promulgated from on high. In another essay on Reaney Bowering explores the difference between the poet's Ontario regionalism and historical consciousness and the west coast writer...


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