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564 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 descriptive quality.' As a radio drama colunmist for the Winnipeg Citizen, she was critical of what she saw as Canada's 'inferiority complex' when it came to comparing Canadian radio to American programs, and called for a drama to be produced on the life of Louis Riel. Gerry'sdiscussionofLaurence's political writingbetween 1975 and 1986 provides a crucial reassessment of her life and writing 'after fiction' when, according to many, she was involved with apple pie and motherhood issues and tossed off 'easy' pieces for popular magazines that left readers lamenting the loss of her artistic skills. For Gerry, critics have wrongly separated Laurence's caring about violence against women, poverty, nuclear disarmament, and war from the moral imagination that had made her a great writer. Whatever the attributes ofher fiction, he insists, it should not be valorized over other forms of her creative expression, and Laurence's 'political writing ought to be included as an integral part of her literary achievement.' Other essays in Challenging Territory are concerned with the strongly feminist aspects of Laurence's writing, and with such specific topics as the complexities of Laurence's Scots Presbyterian heritage and mourning in A Bird in the House. Meira Cook, with her Kristevian analysis of the maternal in The Diviners, provides an important reconsideration of Morag's (and Laurence's) position as a writer at the end of this novel. What Cook skilfully leads us towards and states in her own final sentence connects profoundly to Gerry's insistence that Laurence went on, ever deeper into human life, after finishing The Diviners: 'Because shecannotsimultaneously be and have the mother, Morag ends from the place where she has begun, and begins again as origin.' (J.A. WAINWRIGHT) Guni1la Florby. The Margin Speaks: A Study ofMargaret Laurence and Robert Kroetsch from a Post-Colonial Point ofView Lund University Press. 256. The Margin Speaks is a competent, clearly written comparative survey of the writing of Kroetsch and Laurence as read through a postcolonial lens that focuses primarily on the difficulties of establishing a new culture on colonized territory and on the stated anti-colonial concerns of the writers themselves. Of the high theory big three, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak are not cited, although Edward Said appears briefly. In contrast Canadian, Commonwealth, and European critics are well represented. Using the definition of postcolonial provided by Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin in The Empire Writes Back, Florby's study aims to 'explore how a site of countercultural resistance is constructed in the work of these writers.' In my view, this goal remains unrealized, although the study remains an interesting introduction to these issues for the neophyte and a stimulating refresher course for the expert. HUMANITIES 565 The book begins and ends with Kroetsch. Although the tone throughout is reverential- Kroetsch and Laurence are described as 'giants of the earth' -these opening sections are the most deferential to the authors' point of view and the :interpretations of their critics. Florby seems more confident in contesting the views of some of Laurence's critics, and the book becomes more interesting at these moments (in discussion of Wordsworthian and Tempest intertexts and feminist readings in particular). Even here, however, she misses many opportunities to move beyond swnmarizing the views of others into offering her own analysis. She fails, for example, to address the postcolonial controversy around Laurence's use of Metis characters, especially in The Diviners. Instead, readers are treated to brief biographies of each author and chronologically based close readings of their texts as formal structures that place thematic coverage above postcolonial focus most of the time. To some extent, the book's accessibility derives from its deliberate blandness. While it is refreshing to read a postcolonial study that is free from the ad hominem attacks and bitter accusations that characteri2e much postcolonial work today, it is also disconcerting to read sentences that pass over major controversies in the field to present a homogenizing view of divergent movements. Florby needs to ignore some important disputes to see in Kroetsch a seamless weave of postmodem and postcolonial dimensions . Again, ignoring a substantial body of postcolonial work on the phenomenon of 'going...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 564-566
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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