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HUMANITIES 157 Space does not permit me the opportunity to discuss in any detail the views presented in the book on multiculturalism. Despite describing himself as the child of immigrants, Granatstein has little positive to say about recent immigrant groups or the federal government's policies. Instead of supporting the 'multicultural mania,' the government should tum immigrants into Canadians as quickly as possible through assimilation , Granatstein states. Clearly the fear is that multicultural policies threaten Canadian history and heritage and, in the world-according-toGranatstein , immigrants ought to be required to learn a particular version of Canadian history. Who Killed Canadian History? does not convincingly answer the question posed in the title. Rumours of the death of history have been greatly exaggerated and the J evidence' is not provided in this book What Granatstein's book does convey is his own one-sided, narrow, and nostalgic view of history, one that is ideologically driven by his own political agenda. His cavalier and unsupported dismissal of much of what has been written in the last two or three decades in Canadian history serves mainly to tmdercut his own credibility as a scholar and historian. (LINDA KEALEY) Jonathan Kertzer. Worrying the Nation: Imagining a National Literature in English Canada University of Toronto Press. xiv, 242. $40.00 The crisis in literary studies in the 19805 may have been provoked by questions about the nature of the [literary,' but - as the cultural nationalism that made Canadian literary criticism a growth industry thirty years ago gave way to ambivalence about, even hostility towards, the role of nation in cultural affairs - the crisis in Canadian literary studies has centred around the word 'Canadian.' Partly as a result of poststructuralism's challenge to the metanarratives, abstractions came to seem unexamined mystifications, and nation just one more obfuscating concept. Even postcolOnial criticism evolved away from its affirmative view of the nation, joining other liberatory perspectives in viewing the national asyet another manifestation of imperialism that needed to be disrupted. But if nationhood is an artifact of false consciousness or an act of exclusion, what are we doing still studying something identified as Canadian literature? As the subtitle ofJonathan Kertzer's study assumes, a while back (I would say by the mid-1970S) we gave up trying to identify Canadian literature as one that included both official language groups. In the early 1980s, E.D. Blodgett argued (in essays collected in Configuration) that we should give up even the more limited objective of studying an English-Canadian literature and become students of the Canadian literatures . By 1993 Frank Davey thought we had become too postnational to 158 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 care. At century's end, the implicit idealism ofpoststructuralistapproaches (Kertzer is surely right to speak of the 'utopian cast to recent theory') has become less dominant, making it timely to reconsider what he calls 'the explanatory power of nationality.' 'Nationality cannot be ignored, even if it has served purposes that are now judged unworthy.' Therefore, 'It is precisely because Canada has so many conflicting constituencies that we need a national space in which to meet, dispute, and negotiate.' To consider the questions of national literary history and of Canadian literature's relationshlp to social justice (and to related questions, such as 'sociability'), Kertzer feels the need of a new critical form, one he calls worrying. He speaks of his lmodest hope of establishing worrying as a scholarly form comparable to the essay, confession, anatomy, and survey ... To worry at a subject is to consider it perSistently in different ways, in a spirit of diffident concern.' I find this approach appealing, though not so different from the critical meditation - that phenomenological approach in which the critical essay moves around the edges of topics, obliquely delineating their outlines, making connectionsand letting conclusions arise as they occur to the author. That meditative form has been important to a number of Canadian critics, including George Bowering, Derutis Lee, and Eli Mandel. Kertzer's own meditation on the nation is defined by two poles: one occupied by the 'national ghost' (the assumption that there ought to be some genius loci informing our literature, even if all we in Canada can do is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 157-159
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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