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444 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 thesis, they gain validity. Biography here works directly to enhance the critical position, which if separately stated or taken out of context might lose its value. Some readers may object to these interpretative declarations , but they reveal a biographer unafraid to analyse his subject and eagerto understand the behaviourandcreativeimpulses thatformed him. Statements declaring that Pratt would never have become a poet ifhe had not gone to Victoria College and 'come under the spell of Pelham Edgar,' seem at first rhetorical; but after presenting the evidence Pitt persuasively supports his claims. A corollary to the interpretative tendency of the biography is Pitt's continual redefinition of Pratt's character. Implicitly following Virginia Woolf's proposition that we are many selves and change as we mature, Pitt does not reprove but record Pratt's evolving personality. Describing Pratt the conversationalist and bon vivant who also supposedly did not care for the company of women, Pitt notes that this is only one aspect of his character. It overlooks, in fact, another self 'not unlike the sensitive, vulnerable, insecure and "delicate" boy from the outport manse.' Only Arthur Phelps, Lorne Pierce, and Viola Pratt, however, seem to have known this other man. E.]. Pratt: The Truant Years takes the reader up to 1927, ending with the publication in December 1926 of Titans, the work that put Pratt at the forefront of his contemporaries and confirmed his reputation. Little more than a month away from his forty-fifth birthday, Pratt was at the beginning of a new phase in his career. All this within twenty years of coming to Toronto and within a career of only five or six years' duration as a poet. His entanglement with Newfoundland clarified, his immediate career as a professor under way, his next step in writing to be taken - this is where volume one ends and where this full, decisive, and critical biography of Pratt will, one hopes, continue. (IRA B. NADEL) Solomon J. Spiro. Tapestry for Designs: Judaic Allusions in the Poetry and 'The Second Scroll' of A.M. Klein University of British Columbia Press. ix, 236. $35.00 This is a more than welcome addition to Klein scholarship. Hitherto, full appreciation of the poet's work reqUired the time-consuming and often futile task of searching for the background and meaning of Klein's Judaic allusions. Now, in Tapestry for Designs, as the title indicates, we can handily locate the sources of interweaving threads in the rich pattern of Klein's major works. Rabbi Spiro's Introduction places Klein's Weltanschauung within the nineteenth-century ideology of Jewish Science, a Jewish response to the Enlightenment that sought to reconcile the ideals of humanism with HUMANITIES 445 traditionalJudaism. Among other things, says Spiro, Jewish Science gave impetus to 'the tense underlyingthemes' ofmodernJewishliterature. But, whereas others wrote in Yiddish for Yiddish-speaking readers, Klein wrote in English to 'interpret the traditions of his people' for Jews and non-Jews alike. It is ironic that, rather than increasing understanding, his work, particularly the allusions, frequently creates a stumbling block for readers, so now we need Spiro to interpret Klein for us. Spiro explains allusions and their sources, and includes detailed religious, cultural, and historical information relevant to individual poems and to references in The Second Scroll, and he translates foreign words. He also documents information from secondary sources, and includes a bibliography and several detailed appendices treating individual aspects of The Second Scroll. How much greater our appreciation is of Klein's work when we understand the historical events depicted in, for example, 'Murals for a House of God,' or references to Jewish writers of antiquity in 'Ave Atque Vale,' or the Kabbalistic legend and doctrines alluded to in 'Exorcism Vain.' And when we realize the significance and derivation of the refugees' names in the 'Deuteronomy' chapter of The Second Scroll, we see how they convey, as Spiro says, 'Jewish poverty, oppression, and suffering and imply the promise of future salvation.' His erudition is apparent on almost every page of this important reference book. The format of Tapestry Jor Designs is that of a guidebook; with a few exceptions, where a title has been omitted...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 444-446
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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