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HUMANITIES 329 writers show a reticence and reserve. The letters to Al Purdy and Earle Birney that I have seen in their papers, for instance, rarely touch personal issues. Woodcock's attitude to autobiography and biography - his refusal to probe or speculate - is reflected in the narrowness of his literary criticism. Though he edited the country's most influential critical journal, his own writing rarely entered into dialogue with the works that changed the intellectual climate of our time. One can read widely in Woodcock and never come across a reference to Heidegger, Sartre, Levi-Strauss, or Foucault. Even when he deals effectively with a writer, one rarely has the sense of seeing a writer or his work in a new way. Considering how much Woodcock wrote about Canadian literature, it's surprising that none ofrus essays or books strike one as having classic or canonical status. They are well written, lucid, and intelligent, and rarely cited. In fact, I doubt whether any of Woodcock's literary or travel books will have the staying power of Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. As Fetherling's title emphasizes, however, Woodcock, as one would expect, was an anarchist of the'gentle' kind. His politics were the reason for his claiming the status of a conscientious objector during the Second World War. In Canada, they underlay his lifelong journalistic jousting with the centraliZing tendencies of the various Canadian governments . Both positions are more problematic than Fetherling's sympathetic accotmt allows. One can't avoid asking, what would have happened to England and Europe in 1939 had everyone followed Woodcockin his gentle anarchism? What would have been the fate of Canada as a nation had Canadians listened to Woodcock's pleas for extreme decentraHzation? More realistic and effective were two 'political' initiatives the Woodcocks started in the 19808, the Tibetan Refugee Aid Society and the Woodcock Trust to help writers who find themselves 'in sudden distress.' Together with one or two books and Canadian Literature, they will probably be the most lasting parts of Woodcock's legacy. (SAM SOLECKI) Craig Heron, editor. The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925 University of Toronto Press. viii, 382.. $65.00, $24.95 At the end of the First World War, Canada experienced a notable period of labour militancy. The centrepiece was the general strike in Winnipeg in the late spring of 1919, but radical action occurred from Cape Breton to Vancouver Island. Workers in most parts of Canada organized, demonstrated , applauded radical orators, and, even if they were not organized, abandoned their workplaces. The postwar years saw the birth of the One Big Union, the Communist Party, and Quebec's Catholic union federation. Union strength soared. For the first time, labour candidates made signifi- 330 LEITERS IN CANADA 1998 cant political progress. Farmer-dominated governments in Ontario, Manitoba , and Alberta had significant labour minorities. Unlike their few predecessors , J.5. Woodsworth and Bill Irvine, elected as labour members in 1921, had neither ties nor leanings to either traditional party. When the war ended, so did most constraints. The Imperial Munitions Board closed its factories within a few days of the Armistice, but world demand soared for almost every resource Canada produced. So did prices, persuading managers, shareholders, and workers that prosperity was a permanent reward for the victors, and any desire could be fulfilled. It was, of course, an illusion. By 1921, boom turned to bust. Jobs vanished. Strikes collapsed, or were starved out. Late as ever in the struggle for a share of good times, working men and women across Canada found their dreams dissolved and their hopes destroyed. The Workers' Revolt, as Craig Heron and his coauthors characterize it, faded fast, leaving desperate rearguard struggles in Cape Breto'n's steel and cocil industry, hundreds of blacklisted leaders, and a handful of labour radicals, such as J.B. McLachlan and R.B. Russell, with prison records. In The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925, Craig Heron and his eight colleagues offer a number of regionally based essays on wartime and postwar labour activity. 'The aim of this book,' writes Heron, 'is to clarify what happened in working-class Canada at the end of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 329-331
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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