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HUMANITIES 489 while it introduces Wuthering Heights to the uninitiated, it also offers startling but persuasive new interpretations for Bronte critics, even those who have read the many hundred books and articles about a work that likely will continue to be read by many generations to come. (KRISTIN BRADY) A.A. den Otter. The Philosophy of Railways: The Transco11tinental Railway ldea i11 British North Ameria1 University of Toronto Press. xi, 292. $34ยท95 With the possible exception of hockey~ nothing resonates in Canadian culture like railways. We built them with reckless abandon. We sing about tbem. The nation apparently dreams about them. And in the mid-nineteenth century~ if Joseph Howe is to be trusted, we made love for them: 'I never see a bride going to church with orange blossoms in her bonnet or a young couple strolling to Kissing Bridge of a summer evening~ but I involuntarily exclaim~ Heaven Bless them~ there go the materials to make railroads.~ In no other country would railway couplings have a salacious meaning. A.A. den Otter's book attempts to explain how the idea of railways became so thoroughly embedded in our psyche, if not our loins. More particularly he is concerned with what he calls 'technological nationalism/ the popular identification of transcontinental railway development with nationality. It is not irrunediately obvious why a raUway should be the precondition of nationhood. In other places and other times nationalists have worked with other materials. But in the late nineteenth century, at least~ Canadian nationalists, like French impressionist painters, were overcome by the vapours, panting mass, and demotic form of the steam engine. For Freudians the train was a symbol of death; for Canadians , whose civilization apparently involved less guilt, the railway symbolized liberty- from the grasping Americans, from colonialism, from a provincial destiny, from boredom. And we bankrupted ourselves to be free. But I must be careful not to mislead the unwary. This is not the place to look for a 'cultural studies' perspective on the Canadian railroad. Those concerned with the profmmd cultural anxiety instilled by the tunnel, the semiotic implications of the ticket punch, or the homoerotic qualities of the caboose are advised to look elsewhere. Here you will find everything any newspaper editor~ politician, or engineer of note said about the economic~ political~ and moral aspects of railways from T.C. Keefer to John A. Macdonald - although the dreadful doggerel" about Mr Tilley's railway policy is unaccountably missing. If you should awake in the middle of the night wondering what George Fenety, a StJohn editor~ thought about the European and North American Railway, here's where to look. Familiar opinions on railways are stacked like cordwood~ colony by colony, except every now 490 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 and then the orderly rows have been toppled over and strewn about by an exuberant political scandal or a reversal of party fortunes. The most important section of the book, for example, reconsiders the standard interpretation of the negotiations for the first transcontinental railway. Everyone knew that the Americans were behind the scheme and that the trains would run south of Lake Superior, den Otter argues; the issue was political corruption not nationalism. Two elections later, howevec that would change and an all-Canadian route would be dogma. Why this was so is not entirely clear. Why people believed it to be true despite evidence to the contrary is a mystery. The Philosophy ofRailways is a conventional guide to the major policy debates over ra.ilways, and to a certain extent commercial development, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Take this train for a nostalgic journey to the heartland of Canadian political history. (H.v. NELLES) Christopher Moore. 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal McClelland and Stewart. xvi, 280. $29.99 Christopher Moore is a vigorous young historian who can write, do research, and make a mark with both. At age thirty-two he won the Governor-General's gold medal (1982) for Louisburg Portraits. He began his career working for Parks Canada in the Historic Sites Service; historians there do research papers on a variety of persons and places; upon these the Historic Sites and Monuments Board...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 489-490
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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