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306 GEORGE WOODCOCK But balancing these occasional flaws in judgment, as they appear to me, one finds excellent and enlightening estimates constantly appearing in Canadian Literature in English. Keith, for example, does admirable justice to Mavis Gallant, who has too long been neglected by Canadian literary historians; he notes the solid virtues ofother neglected good writers like Frederick Niven. And his book is studded with perceptive sentences that encapsulate concepts many critics would take a whole essay to develop. An insight on Earle Birney, for example: 'Birney's is essentially a poetry of process, ofresponses to the moment that do not necessarily blend with the responses of the past and may well be supplanted or contradicted in the future,' Or an unexpected but surprisingly accurate comment on Pratt's 'colloquial vitality': 'lfitrecalls anything, itis the vernacularpoetry ofRobert Frost - a reminder that, for all Pratt's loyalty to British tradition, his own writing naturally follows a North American cadence: Or an almost perfect damning - of Bliss Carman - with faint praise: 'His was a decidedly minor talent, but his best poems exhibit a frail resilience: Above all, Keith adjusts proportions. In their eagerness to be all-inclusive and to avoid the consequences of too rigorous evaluation which, as Frye remarked, might have turned their task into a 'huge debunking project,' the authors of the Literary History ofCanada paid attention to far too many writers, particularly early ones, whose skills were at best minimal. But Keith, writing at a time when we can look back on decades of notable literary achievement, is able to base his selection and judgment of writers on the conviction he expresses in his preface, that: 'Ultimately ... it is the tradition established by the best that sets the standard: There is not in his book, even when one may find his judgments debatable, the least sign of making allowances for the inferior because there is little else. Canadian writing - and Canadian criticism - have fortunately passed the stage when apologies might have seemed necessary, and Canadian Literature in English can stand as the record of an established and vigorous tradition that bears comparison with any other in the English-writing world. The LondonlBerIin Axis PHYLLIS GROSSKURTH Perry Meisel and Walter Kendrick, editors. Bloomsbury/Freud. The LEtters of James and Alix Strachey, '924-'925 New York: Basic Books '985. 360. illus. $21.95 Among the many impressive collections in the manuscript section of the British Library are the papers of the Strachey family who have contributed so much to British intellectual life. In 1978 an enterprising American academic, Perry Meisel, arrived in England in quest of correspondence behveen James Strachey and Sigmund Freud concerning the translation of Freud's works into English. He subsequently discovered the correspondence of James and Alix Strachey, which t.JNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 55, NUMBER 3, SPRING 1986 BLOOMSBURY/FREUD 307 had been added to the Strachey papers by the Strachey Trust only two weeks before his arrival. It was one of those literary windfalls that can make scholarship an exciting adventure. Meisel then enlisted the aid of another American scholar, Walter Kendrick, to produce an edition of compelling interest. The editors have made a selection from the most interesting part of the correspondence - the letters of '924-5. During this period Alix Strachey was in Berlin in analysis with Karl Abraham whileJames remained in England busy with the translation of Freud's works as well as being involved in the activities of the fledgling British Psycho-Analytical Society. Husband and wife wrote to each other almost daily, so we are given intimate access to the personalities and issues in current psychoanalytic politics. These matters form the dynamic centre of the letters against the background of long-standing Bloomsbury relationships. In the Introduction the editors provide a shorthistory olthe British and German groups as well as an explanation for the enforced separation of the Stracheys. While the separation was extremely painful to husband and wife in many ways, we can onlybe thankful that it has left us with a human document, both lively and humorous, a marked contrast to the summaries of papers or accounts of Congresses in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Shortly...


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