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HUMANITIES }19 memory which could, he felt, transcend their specific origins in time and place and establish a new universal language of abstract art. iHe is/ so the French critic Michel Seuphor wrote in 19641 'man and painter before being Canadian and his painting is a direct expression of the pre-eminence of both man and painter, over etlmic or national allegiance.' Lela and York's neighbour and friend, the celebrated Marshall McLuhan, revelled in the artist's shift from representation to abstraction, 'a notable manifestation of the new awareness of nuclear man, the shift from sight to insighL' Wilson's abstracts evoked those grand notions of the universal progress of J man' that inspired so many writers on culture and society following the Second World War. The popular turn of this idealism, and the catch-phrase of world development repeated for corporate and political causes, are precisely what tarnished Wilson's artistic practice, his diplomatic allegiances, and especially his business acumen for younger iantiestablishment ' Toronto artists. Moreover, as Lela records, York felt the rough hand ofQuebec separatistsentimentduring the 19605 which rejected universalist tenets in favour of an independent francophone culture. York's poetic abstracts were ignored or denounced as 'all surface and no depth.' Why York Wilson, as a mature artist, led a split career as the popular international abstractionist and the estranged Toronto aesthete is a question that begs for a broad cultural awareness of Canada in the 19605 and 19705. York Wilsonfs network of private and professional relationships, so thoroughly outlined by Lelaf distinguishes a wide margin of cultural bias in the fine arts of those decades. His contribution cannot be assessed without discussion of art markets, of connoisseurship, and of cultural trends. Lela gives all the clues. Her book is a treasure trove of auspicious anecdotes and sensitive personal insights. (ANNA HUDSON) John Kenneth Galbraith. Letters to Kennedy. Edited by James Goodman Harvard University Press. 158. us $24.95 Letters to Kennedy is an important and engaging book The wider audience will appreciate this fine example of the disappearing art of attentive, polished correspondence. John Kenneth Galbraith - Canadian born, celebrated post-Keynesianeconomist, ambassador to India under Kennedy (1961--63), and prolific writer - is at his best writing to his president. Never one to repress his ideas, even if controversial, Galbraith articulates his arguments forcefully and succinctly. Written with verve and wit, replete with vivid images and allusions, these letters are fun to read. As a historical source, the collectionfurnishes too little newly unearthed documentary evidence. As well, historians of New Frontier diplomacy must look elsewhere for impartial judgment of Dean Rusk and his State Department. Rusk resented Galbraith's access to the White House. 320 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 Galbraith deemed his superior a conservative thinker and a conventional bureaucrat. He was thus blind to the more innovative aspects of Rusk's record, such as his early, private acknowledgment of Sino-Soviet fissures or his overtures to plumb Beijing's intentions in the sununers of both 1961 and 1962. Nevertheless, this is a most valuable addition to the extant literature on the Kennedy years. The letters are a timely reminder that Camelot had a brighter side. Elegant and droll, they wonderfully convey the admixture of optimism, irony, and self-regard that was the essential spirit of the New Frontier. More substantively, the collection reveals Kennedy's willingness to accept criticism, as long as the dissenter's personal loyalty remained beyond doubt. The volume indeed corroborates Galbraith's self-claim to astute foreign policy statecraft. He emerges as a perceptive observer ready to challenge cold war conventions. Nurtured, to be sure, by Galbraith's supreme selfregard and trorst for bureaucratic bickering, this posture derived chiefly from a conscious and commendable effort to evade dogma. For example, in a previously unpublished letter of 3 April 1961, the politically adept Galbraith obliquely cautioned Kennedy against the Bay of Pigs misadventure. As historian William E. Leuchtenburg notes, Galbraith's prescient warnings about the foredoomed venture on which America was embarking in Vietnam are alone good reason for buying this book. He doubted the validity of the domino theory in the 'space age,' especially in the 'incoherent lands' of Southeast Asia...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 319-321
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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