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402 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Walcott's grasp ofhistory is so slippery that one must view his use of the word 'new' with utmost scepticism. Celebrating Dionne Brand, Walcott insists that she 'began the project of rewriting the [white] racialized space of Canada.' His statement erases, of course, not only Brand's many AfricanCanadian literary ancestors, but even her more immediate literary forebear, namely, Austin Clarke. But Walcott's mistake is fitting: those who do not research their history are condemned to falsify it. (Naturally, when he cites my work, Walcott falls into error. He thinks my interest in AfricanCanadian literary history descends from African-American literary scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Rather, it follows the politic reasoning of FrancoOntarian literary scholar Rene Dionne.) Though Walcott models his work on that of the black British cultural theorist Paul Gilroy, he exhibits an un-Gilroy-like, quite ostentatious, reluctance to provide quotations or other supporting matter for his prononncements. His treatment of African-American novelist Ishmael Reed's Flight to Canada (1976) fails to utilize any quotation from the text. When he argues that Canadian literary critics Frank Davey and Linda Hutcheon 'seem tmable to read in complex and engaging ways the histories of those whom Gilroy has termed the ncounterculture of modernity,"' Walcott does not provide examples of their alleged failures, nor does he undertake to correct their supposed misreadings. One is left to simply accept his blrmderbuss assertion. What a terrifying vision of 'scholarship.' One must even question Walcott's acquaintance with general scholarship on Canada. For instance, in critiquing Stephen Williams's dramatic film Soul Survivor (1995), Walcott fails to consider the possible presence of Red Tory notions, even though he notes the film's survivalist ethos and 'conservative voice-over.' Discussing Brand's novel In Another Place, Not Here (1996), Walcott pooh-poohs Margaret Atwood's Survival thesis. Yet, it applies patently to Brand. Sadly, Walcott even has a penchant for muddling terms. His phrase 'racist notions ofblack people beinglinked genealogically to the ape family' would itself read less racistly if the adverb were 'genetically.' Elsewhere, the text confuses 'discreet' with 'discrete' and 'bares' with 'bears.'lt seems to care more for slogans than for spelling. Black Like Who? just won't do. An amateurish, fuddled attempt at analysis , it is merely a pastiche of opinions. It is to black cultural studies what finger-painting is to art. (GEORGE ELLIOTT CLARKE) W.H. New. Land Sliding: Imagining Space, Presence, and Power in Canadian Writing University of Toronto Press. xvii, 278. $17.95 In the introduction to Land Sliding: Imagining Space, Presence, and Power in Canadian Writing, W.H. New claims as his area of inquiry 'Canada's changing cultural character.' And, in fact, New's discussion extends beyond the HUMANITIES 403 literary (works cited range from fiction and poetry to 'scientific' commentary and real-estate rhetoric) to the visual arts, encompassing familiar Canadian artists, the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, and Bill Reid, and artists working in less conventional media (Vancouver video autobiographer Paul Wong, for example).Drawing on an equally diverse body of critical writing (insights from feminism, new historicism, and postcolonial studies are all integral), as well as key works on the sense of place and spatial theory in the fields of art history, anthropology, sociology, and geography, New's general thesis is, simply put that 'place can be text ... and text place.' While Land Sliding does not alter recent critical insights in the theorization of space and place per se, New's study is admirable both for the scope of his endeavour and for the directions of further study it suggests. Following Henri Lefebvre, New reads place and space as 'relational notions,' 'place ... designating a particular use of space, and space designating the set of (epistemological, political, sensory, and imaginative) assumptions governing a people's attitudes towards social production, social distance and hence social power.' The most general descriptions of social relationship are often spatial (i.e. centre, margin), and, for Lefebvre, as space becomes a social corrunodity, spatial metaphors can also be read for the power relationships they reveal. New's interest lies in whathe terms the 'language ofland' and the construction, confirmation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 402-404
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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