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206 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUART,ERLY run t o seed and decaying on the stalk) he practices the honest frankness of a continental Europe which never knew Puritanism-a very_ -different· thing from the exhibitionist frankness of the current American output. At a time when Canadian authors are called upon to depict the-Canadian scene to the patriotic end that Canadians may learn to understand it and to love it· better, he depicts only that part of it which imposes on mankind the bitterest hardships in the struggle for survival. By this means he has influenced Canadian literature, and much for its good, ·by diverting it slightly from its too facile optimism-. But his proper function, obviously, was to reach the whole audience of Nor~h America, not as a Cinadian author but as a North Ameri-can one; and he was barred from doing so by the. unconquerable belief of the U-nited States part of that audience that nothing of importance could come out of Canada except romances of the Mounted Police and of the habitants, and that everything that could' be said about the frontier life had already been said by United States writers. ENGLAND'S HELICON: 1600-1660"' Only the contemporary volume of the new Oxford History of English Literature is likely to be as difficult to write as the volume on the earlier seventeenth century so superbly handled by Professor Douglas Bush. From 1660 to 1900 the main movements of mind an~ art are relatively clear, but "normality consists in incongruity" in the period which begins by be~ng "more than half mediaeval" and ends by being "more than half modern." The historian who would define the pattern of new notions and ideas vigorously agitated against a background of ancient traditions newly vitalized, has before him a hard task and more than one heroic argument. The task is the more difficult, though the m.ore rewarding, because the echoes of our own t1me sound back so insistently and deceptively_ across the intervening centuries of Augustan peace, Romantic wonder, and Victorian progress. "This is a very accusative age," said Sir_ Edward Dering early · in -the debates in the Long Parliament; its modern interpreters are very nearly as divided and distinguished. Moreover literature was then not so much a specialized calling-its English "art" ·had not yet indeed been clearly formulateq-as but one activity of men otherwise much engaged, in rdigion, politi~s, science, the keeping of libraries, the manufacturing of glass, ironmongering, and the general exploration of new worlds of activity _ and experience. And if their rapidly expanding horizon made it hard for them to see life steadily, they were still impelled even in their lyrics to see it as a whole--though a fragmented whole. Consequently the historian *English Literature in the Earlier Seflenteen/IL Century, 1600-1660. By DouGLAS BusH. Vol. V of the Oxford History of English Literature, ed. F. P. Wilson and Bonamy Dobree. Oxford : at the Clarendon Press [Tor~nto: Oxford University Press]. 1945. Pp._ viii, 622. ($6.50) ···. REVIEWS 207 of their literature,.like their .ideal poet, is required to be a man of broad and varied knowledge; he must be able to use for his own purposes the instruments of other .fields of scholarship without sacrificing to merely murderous dissection the spontaneous response to life and letters which was so abundan_ tly theirs. -Largely because of the similarities, real or supposed, between the . intellectual and emotional problems of the seventeenth century and those .. of our late dry season, an immense ·amount of specialized work on ~t has accumulated in the past twenty-five years. Some of this has been extra~ ordinarily subjective, f!Ome·avowedly propagandist, and on the other hand a good deal has, of course, been academically dessicated. But the hundred and seventy odd pages of this volume's descriptive bibliography record an· enlightened editorial and critical activity on every aspect of the period, proceeding "even to a rarity and admiration." There has however been . no.really-comprehensive and authoritative charting of the curr~nts of the age since Professor Sir Herbert Grierson's Messenger Lectures of 1926-7. This section of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 206-210
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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