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HUMANITIES 427 subject supports this effect of a verbal snapshot rather than an inquiry. As well, an empathy with each writer, which is strengthened by some impressive homework, suggests an Olympian breadth of vision or a metamorphic adaptability on the part of the interviewers, who have added an index of any name or title mentioned by an author. In selecting their writers, the interviewers J attempted to give representation to the regional aspect of Canadian writing,' but this and other anxieties of balance are, I think, accidental. The choice of subjects was haphazard, often with one author suggesting to the interviewers the next. Yet this 'kind of treasure-hunt' has led to a productive diversity for, besides Livesay, Layton, Purdy, Findley, and Cohen, there are also Acorn, Souster, Reaney, Mandel, and MacEwen - writers not usually featured in books of this sort because they are not consistently taught. Elizabeth Smart, Sheila Watson, and Brian Moore are three other uncommon but significant figures interviewed here - and Roo Borson, destined to represent the invisible generation of the eighties until Dennis Lee's anthology The New Canadian Poets comes along. Besides putting before the eyes some Canadian writers who are in danger of neglect, a chiefvalue of a publication of this kind is that it gives young writers points of reference for their own creative dilemmas. This is no small service. Meyer and O'Riordan, who are creative writers themselves, communicate sympathetically about the creative process, though from within the interviewer's role in which they are jointly trapped. (SEAN KANE) B.W. Powe. A Climate Charged Mosaic Press. 196. $9.95 paper A Climate Charged is a Lewisian Blast against Canadian dullness, a McLuhanite probe towards new awareness and revaluation. In essays on McLuhan and Frye, on the Canadian intellectual and critical milieu, and on Davies, Richler, Laurence, Atwood, Layton, and Cohen, B.W. Powe enacts his belief that criticism must be 'entertaining and poetic ... partial, passionate, political.' The young writer also displays some problems of inconoclasm. Powe favours McLuhan's stress on 'the word in the world' over Frye's concept of 'the text in the void.' Recalling his graduate studies at the University of Toronto in 1978-9, he empathizes with McLuhan's position as outsiderwithin academe, explains his views of thought and personality as shifting and provisional, and admires his use of these percepts in teaching. In contrast, Powe decries the all-answering manner of Frye, arguing that his self-referential structure of myth and convention is a retreat from evaluation and history that excludes 'feeling and experience as ways of knowing.' The case is well put, though it has been presented 428 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 with better backgrounding in critical and historical contexts in Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory. The informed and thorough academic critic would not raise some of Powe's concerns, or would do so differently. He would not commit to print the perennial complaints that Canadian literary circles are (like all others) dominated by certain persons and groups, and that university postsare, insomevague andundemonstratedway, harmfulto writers. He would not suggest that there has never been a 'truly critical spirit' in Canada without examining our critical tradition. He would not rephrase critical commonplaces, noting thatRichleris a socialsatirist, that Layton is a raging and self-parodying prophet, that Cohen is a darkly romantic solipsist, and that Laurence's novels focus on survival and grow out of character. But the iconoclast's forte is self-expression. We can be grateful for Powe's witty attacks on ptolemaic thematic criticism, literary salesmanship , and the turgid jargons of Marxism and game theory and Heideggerian mysticism. Also valuable are his perceptions that Layton's grasp of his personae is theoretical, that Cohen's metamorphosing selves mirror two decades of cultural change, and that the artifice of Atwood's novels does not transcend her trivializing emphasis on self-image and neglect of Nietszchean Being. Ironically, Powe is obsessed with his subjects' images and with his own, and while he finds that Atwood's popularIty compromisesherliterarymerit, his ownbookengages two audiences: one interested in elliptical remarks and plot summaries, and the other in close analyses of critical assumptions. Both audiences should notice the colonialism...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 427-429
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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