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90 DOUGLASLBPM; readers who take up these books hoping for pleasure and enlightenment may not fall where he has himself had to struggle to be upright. (ROIlBRTSON DAVIES) BUTTERFLY ON ROCK' This is one of the most interesting and illuminating studies that has ever been written about Canadian literature. It deals with the works of a great number of Canadian writers in English, concentrating chiefly on the past hundred years, and has something valuable to say about all of them. And everything that is said about individual works and individual authors is strung on a strong central thesis which grows and deepens through an introduction and seven chapters and which manages to move forward progressively in time till the very recent present while at the same time presenting different thematic aspects of the author's approach to his subject. As would be expected, the book is well written throughout and has been carefully edited and produced. It proceeds almost exclusively by an examination of themes and resolutions in the works chosen for consideration. Douglas Jones's synthesizing contention is that Canadian literature is best seen as the product of a garrison community surrounded by wilderness. The Canadian writers who have succeeded best, in his view, are those who have gone out into the wilderness and in one way or another have accepted it and transformed it. In some works the process has been almost literally that. In others, the wilderness is to be identified with the life of the instincts while the garrison community is to be identified with various kinds of social and religious conformity. The antithesis between garrison and wilderness that runs throughout the whole book is often presented in biblical terms, in terms of the Book of Job, or of losing one's life in order to find it. Those who are most commended in the study are the writers who have acknowledged the whirlwind within themselves and in the world outside, and who have had the courage to wrestle with it, and ultimately to exult. The virtue that is most celebrated throughout is 'the courage to be.' Since I share almost all of Douglas Jones's admirations and since he deals very sensitively and sympathetically with a fiction of my own, it may be rather ungraceful to express a few reservations about the method and approach that he has adopted. The method he has chosen virtually precludes critical examination in depth of individual works in their own fullness and richness, with attention being paid to their structure and texture as well as to their themes and images. Although the central approach he has chosen admirably brings out the strength of some of the works he examines, it runs the risk of giving undue prominence to 'works which contain explicit affirmations while comparatively slighting works whose meaning is more implicit. It is also rather disturbing to find him attempting to extend the application of his antithesis between garrison and wilderness so that it would cover everything of signifi- "'"D.G. Jones, Butterfiy on Rock. A Study of Themes and Images in Canadian Literature . Toronto: University of Toronto Press 1970. Pp. X, 198. $7.50. BUTrERFLY ON ROCK 91 cance written in our century, in whatever country, since a thesis that can explain everything may come to seem rather suspect as an explanation of the special quality of Canadian literature. Is it possible that in a study of this kind there needs to be more reference to American literature in order to mediate between Canadian literature and the literature of the rest of the world? But having made these reservations, I should add that Douglas Jones's general approach is so wide and generous that it creates an atmosphere in which all, or almost all, the works he treats can speak with their own freshness and integrity. One playful footnote: All those interested in reading Butterfly on Rock and I hope there will be many - should also read Douglas Spettigue's sprightly verse comment on it in the spring issue of Quarry. (DOUGLAS LBPAN) ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 90-91
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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