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420 LETTERS IN CANADA graphical introduction to the main body of French-Canadian literature. ( DAVID M. HAYNE) William Toye, editor, Supplement to the Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature. Oxford University Press, v, 318, $9.50 This book is a melange with a sporadic usefulness. It promises a degree of access to the huge volume of publication from 1967 to the end of 1972 in French as well as in English Canada. The first discussion in English of what has been happening in Quebec, which in treatment balances the commentary on English writing, is one of the best ways the book supplements Norah Story's Companion. The work also adds new subject-entries - in children's books, history studies, political writing, and translations to Story's original categories of anthologies, belles lettres, drama, Eskimos, fiction, folklore, Indians, literary magazines, literary studies, and poetry. Thirty-seven contributo" have supplied these signed articles, which run alphabetically with nearly two hundred biographies, and the experts have tried to account for the books in terms of the cultural context of the six-year period - or, at least, to make appropriate generalizations. In a few areas, of course, it makes sense to attempt an overview so SOOn after the fact. This is so with Sheila Egoff's guide to children's books. Organized by year of publication, then within this by age-group and genre, it provides a useful companion to her survey of the field in The Republic of Childhood. Children's books, like publications in folklore, and books On Indians (the latter arranged to suggest a developing maturity of consciousness about the subject), can be handled in a genuinely informative way because so few of these books are published. The round-up of some five hundred titles under 'History Studies in English' succeeds marginally by an intelligent lise of sub-topiC and by truly descriptive commentary , although the subject area is strained to include biographies and books on art and architecture, fashion and taste. These, together with the omitted publications on religion and music, want their own space. In another useful entry on 'Literary Studies in English: Miriam W addington gives exacting critiques of the most important among the fifty-four books and monographs of criticism recently published on Canadian literature. Students of Canadian writing ought to read this entry along with the item on literary magazines at the beginning of a course; their instructors will benefit from the notes on anthologies, short stories, and drama. The two poetry sections tread deftly arollnd the small presses, periodicals and HUMANITIES 421 events like the nuil de la poesie and the suicide of Claude Gauvreau, to give a sense of the actual context of our recent experimental writing. Now perhaps for the first time some of us in the east may be able to distinguish the small presses of the west coast from the anthologies and magazines from the sixteen volumes of poetry that Bill Bissett has written in this period. But beware of the 'Fiction in English' entry with its false classifications like 'Man and society: the general picture'; 'Individual character: problems of growth and understanding'; 'Personal problems and solutions'; 'the subculture.' Everything our novelists are trying to do in shaping difficult experience is betrayed by these categories and by a smug bias in the commentary which, for example, views some protagonists as 'so inhumane or so victimized by drugs and/or insanity that only a psychiatrist could evaluate their credibility.' The biographies are sound, on the whole, although with the English-language novelists and poets one detects in the critical remarks the difference between acts of citizenship (George Woodcock 's contributions), national duty, and obsessive-compulsive Canadiana. It is the latter I hear loudest when I stand back from the book. There is no index; instead authors are listed alphabetically in heavy-face type, followed so often by an injunction to 'see Fiction in English 2' or 'see Poetry in English 4'. The machinery proves all the more awkward and assuming when one finds a title merely linked in the subject-entry to some concept like 'alienation' or 'the dualities of existence' rather than 10 a sustained reflection on literary problems. In...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 420-421
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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