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}24 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 opportunities to educate his audience in the form of lectures, essays, program notes, and book reviews. These are what make up Happy Alchemy and its companion volume, The Merry Heart. To some extent, one has to regard them as the price of the finer novelist he became in The Deptford Trilogy and What's Bred in the Bone, but he was far too accomplished an entertainer ever to let them read simply as cultural sermons. The lectures lose something from lying on the page instead of being performed by him - 'You are all familiar with the agony of listening to baroque music performed too slowly,' he says in one of his opera pieces, and print can't catch the twinkle that made that a joke rather than a pomposity. But as he admitted.in his diary, he sweated over their preparation, and most of them are superior and diverting cultural journalism. The most interesting items for future readers will be the prefaces he wrote for some of his plays when they were reprinted ten years ago; original jeux d'esprit like his prologue to a Tyrone Guthrie revival of Goldsmith's Good-Natured Man, a prospectus from Friars Bacon and Bungay, Theatrical Suppliers, sent to a Stratford director who cut the cauldron scene from Macbeth, and his libretto Children ofthe Moon, written for the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus. But I for one am glad to have the text of a lecture he gave for the Shaw Festival on Henry Arthur Jones's Silver King, in which his immense knowledge of and enthusiasm for melodrama combine with his pleasure in talking about the theatre to a receptive, intelligent audience in a kind of explosion of high spirits that was as invigorating to watch as to listen to. In some of his other lectures, you can feel him playing Old King Cole, but this was the real thing - a demonstration in itself of his lifelong argument that culture is a form of health as well as wealth. (RONALD BRYDEN) Ramsay Cook and Jean Hamelin, general editors. The Dictionary ofCanadian Biography. Volume 14: 1911-1920 University of Toronto Press. xxii, 1248. $100.00 Volume 14 of the Dictionary ofCanadian Biography covers Canadians who died between 1911 and 1920. Like other recent DCB volumes, it weighs in formidably, this one at five pounds and 1247 pages. As a physical presence it is clearly not a book for bedtime reading; on the other hand its content and style are perfectly suited for the purpose. That uncomfortable juxtaposition cannot be avoided; it is best therefore to put the book on a desk, pull up a chair, and feast. For there are luminous and delightful pieces in this bulky tome, some of the best ones written in the last years of authors' lives, almost as if they were saving their best to the last: George Story on Judge D.W. Prowse, the historian of Newfoundland; Moncrieff HUMANITIES 325 Williamson on the great nineteenth-century portrait painter Robert Harris (1849-1919), Both Story and Williamson are now, alas, dead. There are several approaches to a book like this: by name if one remembers when so-and-so died, like Sir Charles Tupper (the old so-andso ) who died in 1915 aged ninety-three, whose love of ~omen and Tupperdom as well as his considerable contributions to Nova Scotia and to Canada are comprehended in a long and valuable essay by Phillip Buckner. Not an easy essay to write, for Tupper started talking about the age of three and kept at it for the next ninety years, and there is no decent current biography. Indeed the best one is right here in DeB volume 14. Real Belanger gives a fine, balanced article on Sir Wilfrid Laurier, one of the best in the book. He rightly leaves unanswered questions about the nature of Laurier's relations with Emilie Lavergne, the mistress of his mind whether , for example, Armand Lavergne was Lauriees son. (Armand himself, later on, was deliciously equivocal when asked this same question.) Donald Smith, first Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal (18201914 ), is another major figure, not so much in politics as in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 324-326
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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