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180 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 darkness and the occasional gleams of light are getting fewer and fainter.' Well, perhaps. I fancy I was responsible for one of those assessments, but the present collection goes some way, I feel, towards justifying the designation. For myself, I was not accusing him of being either dryly academic or weightily philosophical; rather, I was observing that, as a writer of fiction, he appeals to thoughtful readers and not to those content with a good story or indulgence in an emotional binge. His work is mentally stimulating; for him, fiction constitutes a discipline of thought. Hood makes the point more eloquently than I can when he not only explains how his own doctoral dissertation argued 'that the creative imagination and the active illuminating intell~ct were the same power, an eternizing, revealing power, quintessentially human,' but goes on to assert (this assertion convincingly supported!) that he continued his thinking in his later fictional work. He insists, to be sure, 'I knew I was not a systematic thinker of any sort' - but there are other kinds, and they deserve to be recognized as 'intellectual.' Unsupported Assertions is dedicated to Marshall McLuhan, who wasn't a systematic thinker either. Hood's book is best read, perhaps, in that probing, exploratory, cerebrally challenging context. The final essay, 'The Intuition of Being: Morley, Marshall and Me,' effectively proves my point - how many other Canadian writers would be capable of discussing the Intuition of Being? Here he weighs the possibility ofan English-Canadian Catholic Tradition comprising Morley Callaghan, McLuhan, and himself. It's an intriguing idea, and it places him in impressive company. At its best, Unsupported Assertions favours the claim. In the opinion of some of us, moreover, Hood is in no way to be considered the junior or the least thoughtful of the trio. (W.J. KEITH) Carl F. Klinck. Giving Canada a Literary History Carleton University Press. 228. $24.95 Contemporary Canadian literature is greatly enriched by the Literary History of Canada and the New Canadian Library series, both of which owe their existence to the dedication and perseverance of Carl F. Klinck. Indeed, it could be argued that Klinck transformed the ways in which we read the literature of our country. His list of publications is impressive and covers many years. It includes Edwin J. Pratt: The Man and His Poetry, which he wrote in collaboration with Henry W. Wells, and William 'Tiger' Dunlop: 'Blackwoodian Backwoodsman'. As well, in his position as one of Canada's foremost critics, he met and worked with such literary men as Northrop Frye, Pelham Edgar, and Desmond Pacey, to name a few. So, the reader of Klinck's memoir, Giving Canada aLiterary History, reasonably expects not only a candid history of the work that went into the virtual HUMANITIES 181 defining of Canadian literature as a subject worthy of study, but also an appraisal of some of the 'giants' of Canadian literature. However, the memoir is a disappointment. One of the problems with it is its fragmentary nature. For example, in chapter six, 'Research into the Literature of Canadas,' Klinck provides an interesting survey of the early history of Upper and Lower Canada and tries to explain what he calls 'the remarkable burst of literary activity in Montreal in the 1820s.' But in the second half of the chapter, Klinck spends a great deal of time in a description of his research on Tecumseh. Here, he tells the reader about 'Another discovery [that] was truly exciting. I came upon a unique, anonymous book Tales of Chivalry and Romance - 306 pages of verse published in 1826 by James Robertson and Company in Edinburgh and Baldwin Craddock and Joy in London.' The chapter is filled with this kind of apparently aimless meandering from topic to topic. It is no surprise, then, to learn that Klinck dictated much of the text of this memoir. The only thing that emerges clearly from this memoir is that Klinck was fascinated by research, research of the most obscure and arcane nature. But it is only in the chapter on the birth of the Literary History of Canada that he focuses succinctly on a specific area of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 180-182
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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