In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HUMANITIES 555 pick up his own stool in St Urbain's Horseman, for example, marks not simply a moment of bourgeois squeamislmess but a poignant symbolic moment of public strain and personal ambivalence. IfScatologtj and Civility in the English-Canadian Novel has any weaknesses, it is the irritating (editorial?) choice to include both the original language and its English translation within the main body of the text. Because Kramer works so extensively with Freud, Kristeva, and other French and German theorists, the book often has multiple languages cranuned into a single paragraph; this creates an effete self-preening effect in the book, one easily avoided by relegating the original languages to the endnotes. This, however, is a minor quibble about a superb accomplishment, a rich and nasty feast of a book that rewards a thoughtful (but not penuckety) reading. (GARY BOIRE) Sheila Latham and David Latham, editors. Magic Lies: The Art of W.O. Mitchell University of Toronto Press. xi, 360. $24.95 This many-minded collection ably explores several vital issues in Canada's long and complex relationship with one of its best loved, if not best understood , literary figures. One quiet but widespread view has held that W.O. published what became a classic in 1947, but that in his subsequent career, varied as it was, he never quite lived up to the achievement of Who Has Seen the Wind. Another has been that Mitchell became Canada's best-known prairie voice, a grandly self-mocking presence in the tradition of, at the expense of his higher calling as a novelist. To the editors' credit, these and other contentious perspectives (which reveal as much about the culture that forms them as about their object) are not resolved here, but thoroughly aired and developed in studies that range -appropriately, given the subject -from the dispassionate to the polemicaL Magic Lies is organized .into three parts, with the first and longest section, eleven essays on W.O.'s fiction, introduced by David Latham's judicious survey, 'Magic Lies and Bridges: "A Story Better Told." Here and in the Lathams' preface, the major argument advanced presents Mitchell as an artist whose unique work and presence bridged several traditional gulfs in Canada between popular and high culture. That generous view is amply substantiated by incisive readings of individual works by several of the contributors, among them O.S. Mitchell's revealing acconnt of W.O.'s long struggle with the work that eventually became The Vanishing Point, Theresia M. Quigley's study of childhood in the same novel, Catherine McLay's reading of quest in Since Daisy Creek, Barbara Mitchell's essay on the significance of stories in Roses Are Difficult Here, and Muriel Whitaker's engaging reading ofMitchell alongside William Kurelek. 556 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Astute essays by Terry Goldie and Dick Harrison offer incisive analyses of the homosocial ideal (Goldie), and of1Jracketed sexuality' (Harrison), while·R. Alexander Kizuk reads Who Has Seen the Wind and How I Spent My Summer Holidays in the context of 'a boy's perception of a predominantly maleenvironment/ finding that in both novels 'the mother and woman are, as narrative figures, subordinate to figures of male heroes, and mentors.' W.J. Keith takes the strongest position on Mitchell's fiction after 1947, arguing that F.M. Salter's guiding hand, absent in the other novels, shaped Who Has Seen the Wind into Mitchell's 'one undisputed artistic success,' and Michael Peterman's careful reading of the deficient biographical scholarship in Ladybug, Ladybug ... finds that there is, 'regrettably, too little magic in the creative lies' this novel'tells about Kenneth Lyon's biography of Samuel Clemens.' The section on drama offers two rich discussions of W.O.'s radio plays by Timothy Zeman and Alan Yates Uake and the Kid comes up repeatedly, as it should, in the whole collection), W.O.'s up and down experience with television and film (David Gardner), and affectionate portraits of Mitchell the playwright (Rick McNair and Guy Sprung). The pieces in this section, appropriately, move us closer to Mitchell the man in all of his prolific contradictions, and lead naturally to the final...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 555-556
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.