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334 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 does not inspire confidence that we know something for certain about the man's motives or directions. More important for a study of this kindl we do not come away with any strong sense of a personality or the quality of Moore's thinking. The chameleon has disappeared once again. Just when it seems we will explore what Moore came to believe finally, what the central mythology was in his life, everything turns again to mush - even mystical mush at the end. It may be that Sampson gives Moore the benefit of the doubt too often and takes him at his word too easily. What Sampson's book does inclicate clearly is that Moore had a prodigious talent and a great deal of self-discipline. He could create convincing characters with a great deal of efficiency of prose. Whether or not he was the experimenter that Sampson makes him out to be or a close follower of trends, only time will telL (JOHN ORANGE) Sam Solecki, editor. Imagining Canadian Literature: The Selected Letters ofJack McClelland Key Porter. xviii, 300. $26.95 The perils of Canadian publishing in this century are well known. It takes a resourceful individual to overcome unfavourable odds such as a small population, a large country, a colonial past, American cultural domination, and a tradition of branch-plant publishing. Although Hugh Eayrs of the Macmillan Company ofCanada and Lorne Pierce of the Ryerson Press have been celebrated as distinguished editors of Canadian literature, Jack McClelland is apparently in a class all by himself as a publisher. In an industry where a literary text is subservient to financial constraints, he has brought to publishing a sense of adventure, gusto, an optimistic nationalism , and a belief in the importance of the author. Indeed, according to Sam Solecki, the editor of this collection of McClelland's letters, McClelland's contribution to Canadian culture ranks on a par with that of Margaret Atwood and Northrop Frye. Divided into four sections, this selection of McClelland's correspondence (1949-86) is arranged chronologically, except in a few cases where letters are grouped together thematically. Interspersed among the letters are historical introductions of varying length, biographical information about the correspondents, and annotations to obscure references. There is also a self-effacing preface by McClelland himself, an editorial note, and a useful index. McClelland's correspondents include not only the lummaries from McClelland and Stewart's stable of authors such as Irving Layton, Sylvia Fraser, Leonard Cohen, and Mordecai Richler but also to a lesser extent politicians, newspaper editors, fellow publishers, and ordinary readers. Authors of fiction and poetry predominate. HUMANITIES 335 In many ways McClelland's spirited exchanges reflect his tumultuous career and the successes and failures of his company before it was purchased by its -current owner, Avie BeIUlett. McClelland and his correspondents discuss a variety of issues sllch as censorship, copyright government bungling, canon formation, the plight of authors, and the financial woes of M&S. Frequently, as in the clash between Al Purdy and Harold Town over a proposed anthology of Canadian poems and portraits of Canadian writers, McClelland attempted to placate egos and to dispel misunderstandings. He dictated his letters, but in them one finds a personal and humane touch spiced with a modicum of bitchiness and a salty sense of humour. Gabrielle Roy and Margaret laurence were his favourite writers. 'Have I ever told you that you write the most beautiful letters that I receive?' he kindlybegan a letter to Roy on 24 December 1974. In contrast, McClelland's exchanges with Earl~ Birney were downright nasty. Birney constantly complained about M&S'S publishingand promotion ofrus books, and he undermined McClelland's authority at practically every turn. Accusations and name calling ensued on both sides. On many occasions McClelland's patience was simply exhausted. J Although I am fond of you,' he bl~nt1y told Birney on 15 January 1971, 'have great admiration and respect for you, I admit that I still think you are a shit.' Sam Solecki is no stranger to the role of editor, having edited the Canadian Forum from 1979 to 1982 and several anthologies of Canadian authors. In editing this selectionof McClelland's letters...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 334-335
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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