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448 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 Inevitably, the process of explaining textual minutiae, however goodhumouredly , is sometimes reminiscent of breaking butterflies on the wheel. Inevitably, some notes will seem superfluous to some readers. Without the provocation of particular textual difficulties, how necessary are explanations of terms such as casuistry, claret, hades, neurasthenia, oxymoron, pernod, pogroms, or poltergeist, the full significance ofwhich may be verified by resort to any standard dictionary? Sometimes, itishard to know where to stop. On the other hand, one would not willingly forego the explanation of Lowry's cryptic allusion to Tristan da Cunha's being good for the teeth (the indigenous diet lacks sugat and the island. water contains fluoride), or the commentary on Lowry's apparent confusion over the terms tequila and mescal, or the exposition of the complexities of the Mayan calendrical system. A Companion is not entirely error-free. Conrad's Patusan, where Jim seeks refuge, is located in a remote area of what was formerly Dutch East Borneo (now Indonesian Borneo) rather than'a remote district of Malaya' (p 58). Shakespeare's Lucrece is married to Collatinus, not 'Collinatus' (p 275). The Queen of the Goths in Titus Andronicus is Tamora, not 'Tamara' (p 320 - twice). Ophelia did not'cast herself into the brook' (p 340), but is reported by Gertrude to have fallen by accident. Translation of Spanish phrases in Under the Volcano is accurate, by and large. However, itis doubtful ifthe adjective is best translated as 'fanciful' in the idiom completamentefantdstico (p 22). Australianworkers who abogan por la paz are perhaps 'supporting' or 'advocating' peace, rather than 'pleading' for it (p 39). The verb llegar means 'arrive,' not 'return' (p 87). Frente al is best rendered as 'opposite,' or 'facing,' in preference to 'front of' (p 87). Sabes means 'you know,' not 'you form' (335). Un guardia (p418) is likely to be a policeman rather than a guard. Still, these are trivial slips, which are few and far between in a well organized, carefully edited, and carefully printed book. The uninitiated will find A Companion a reliable guide to the treasure-house of Under the Volcano. Even Lowry specialists will find this publication convenient and often illuminating. A Companion to 'Under the Volcano' is likely to be responsible for adding considerably to the marginalia of many a wellthumbed copy of Lowry's masterpiece. (G.P. JONES) Arthur Kroker. Technology and the Canadian Mind: InnislMcLuhanlGrant New World Perspectives. 144. $6.95 paper This is the first in a projected series of monographs on North American thinkers and theorists published by New World Perspectives, an offshoot of the Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, a lively New Leftist periodical that has achieved something of a reputation as a gadfly in the areas of social and intellectual theory. Written by the founding editor, it HUMANITIES 449 will unfortunately do nothing to advance an understanding of its subject among either lay or specialist readers. The problem begins with the title. The book is ostensibly directed at clarifying the relationship between'technology' and the I Canadian mind' as this latter entity is represented by the thought of Innis, McLuhan, and Grant. Surprisingly, Kroker never pauses to define 'technology,' an oversight which prevents him from confronting the fact that his authors use the termin three quite different ways and are consequently concerned with relatively dissimilar aspects of the effects of 'technology' on the individual and on society. The I technology' that interests Grantis a sort of civil religion ofhuman mastery overnature associated with the relativistic liberal materialism that has brought about what he sees as the spiritual bankruptcy of current North American society. McLuhan's interest in technology, by contrast, is in the media of communications, which he conceptualizes as artificial extensions of human sensory capacities that alter the shape and significance of 'reality' as it is apprehended through human perception. For Innis, 'technology' is the 'howness' of man's interaction with his environment, the physical characteristics of his tools and modes of communication, and consequently their possibilities, limitations, and 'biases.' Kroker seems able to unify these disparate perspectives under the rubric of 'technology' by making that term roughly synonymouswith what used to be called'the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 448-451
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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