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314 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 the Canadian government's territorial ambitions in the Yukon. This chapter especially should be required reading for any government or corporate employees engaged in negotiations with representatives of First Nations. Chapter 5, 'Imperfect Translations: Rethinking Objects of Ethnographic Collection/ cross-references different kinds of stories, with those told by objects in their arrangement and display set against stories on which objects such as carvings are based. The arguments in this chapter are less integrated than elsewhere in the study, though superb illustrations anchor the text. Chapter 6, 'Claiming Legitimacy: Prophecy Narratives from Northern Aboriginal Women/ foregrounds women as repositories of prophecy narratives, though the prophets referred to are men. Here, as elsewhere in the book, Cruikshank argues for the authority of oral narrative in offering 'parallel dimensions of reality.' Specifically, she argues with convincing examples that 'rather than prophecy narratives beingseen [bynon-Natives] as evidence of failure to cope or of social breakdown, they offer a competing form of historical consciousness that deserves to be taken seriously.' The title of the book's final chapter, 'Negotiating with Narrative: Establishing Cultural Identity at the Yukon International Storytelling Festival,' is self-explanatory. It analyses social agency, by which participants focus and highlight their stories to influence social or political agendas. As in earlier chapters, Cruikshank compels the reader's attention with a forceful combination of lucid statement, engaging example, and persuasive argument. To sum up: The Social Life of Stories contributes significantly to our tmderstanding of oral narrative in this country. It deserves and will repay discerning readers. (STAN ATHERTON) Marie Vautier. Ne.w World Myth: Postmodernism and Postcolonialism in Canadian Fiction McGill-Queen's University Press. 340 . $55.00, $24.95 Vautier's excellent comparative study explores the transformative work on myth performed by six Canadian and Quebecois works of historiographic metafiction from 1975 to 1985, novels by Rudy Wiebe, Jacques Godbout, Jovette Marchessault,Joy Kagawa, Franc;~is Barcelo, and George Bowering. Vautier uses the double framework ofpostmodernismand postcolorualism in order to characterize what she calls New World Myth. In opposition to Old World Myth and the assumptions of timeless universality, immutable authority, and transhistoricity, New World Myth is created to suit particular needs, times, and places. The works analysed by Vautier thus exhibit considerable interest in local historico-political events and imaginatively reclaim the past. Vautier shows these acts of tentative reappropriation, however, to thrive on provisionality, doubt, and cognitive instability, to reflect continually upon their own making, and to collapse HUMANITIES 315 time and again the boundaries between myth, history, and fiction. While classical myth is little referenced in these works of what Vautier calls 'postEuropean ' fiction (Kroetsch, for instance, is not studied here), biblical myth plays a greater role, although it is critically distanced and reworked. New World Myth is mainly interested in reconfiguring historical mythologies and the local; in this process, it problematizes and inverts previous hierarchies, and frequently resorts to irony, parody, and intertextuality with liberating effects. In her chapter on Wiebe's The Scorched-Wood People and Godbout's Les tetes aPapineau, Vautier demonstates the reworking of historico-politico myths that is typical of New World Myth in the case of Louis Riel and Louis-Joseph Papineau. Wiebe's narrator, Falcon, blurs history and fiction in a process of mythrnaking that retrieves Riel as a contraclictory and complicated figure from two previous, fixed myths: the one of Riel as villain (from a central Canadian anglophone perspective) and the other as a martyr (from a francophone perspective). Multiple and contested genealogies are also prominent in Les tetes aPapineau, Godbout's political allegory of Quebec's ambivalentdualities around the 1980 referendum. The 'bicephalic' twins and plural narrators, Charles and Fran\ois Papineau, both reference and destabilize the myth of Louis-Joseph Papineau, the leader of the 1837 'Patriotes' rebellion. The question 'who is doing the narrating?' - of primordial importance both in Godbout's obviously bicephalic narratorial instance and in Wiebe's text - continually displaces univocally articulated history and objectivity. Vautier discusses challenges to biblical mythology, patriarchal structures , and official versions of the historico-political past in two chapters on Marchessault's Comme un enfant de fa terre and Kogawa's Obasal1. Marchessault...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 314-316
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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