Heart of a Stranger

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University of Alberta, 2003 - Fiction - 236 pages
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Travel was closely connected to Margaret Laurence’s creativity. Laurence realized that her travels, especially to Africa, provided her with new perspectives on Canada. Heart of a Stranger, originally published in 1976, is a fascinating travelogue chronicling Laurence's geographical journeys to many lands and historic places. She notes "I saw, somewhat to my surprise, that they are all, in one way or another, travel articles. And by travel, I mean both those voyages which are outer and those voyages which are inner." Laurence writes about her travels to Egypt in "Good Morning to the Grandson of Ramesses the Second," to Scotland in "Road from the Isles," and to Greece in "Sayonara, Agamemnon." In "The Very Best Intentions" Laurence sees herself as a "stranger in a strange land" in Ghana. She reflects on the many places she lived in "Put Out One or Two More Flags," "Down East," "The Shack" and "Where the World Began." Professor Nora Foster Stovel’s new introduction "Heart of a Traveller" explores how Laurence’s experiences in other lands influenced and shaped her writing. She contends that "Heart of a Stranger constitutes a concealed autobiography, for, in chronicling her literal life journey, Laurence also reveals her spiritual odyssey."

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A Place to Stand
Sayonara Agamemnon
The Very Best Intentions
The Poem and the Spear
The Epic Love of Elmii Bonderii
Good Morning to the Grandson of Ramesses the Second
Captain Pilot Shawkat and Kiplings Ghost
Down East
Inside the Idiot
am a Taxi
Living Dangerously by Mail
The Shack
Upon a Midnight Clear
Open Letter to the Mother of Joe Bass
Man of Our People

The Wild Blue Yonder
Put Out One or Two More Flags
Road from the Isles
Where the World Began

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About the author (2003)

Canadian author Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss in Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada, on July 18, 1926. She attended United College (now the University of Winnipeg), receiving her B.A. in 1947. Shortly after graduation, she married Jack Laurence, a hydraulic engineer whose job would often take them overseas; the Laurences lived in England for a year, moved to British Somaliland in 1950, and then to Ghana in 1952. It was in Africa that Laurence wrote her first book, A Tree for Poverty, which was a translation of Somali poetry and stories. She also wrote about her experiences in Somaliland in a travel memoir, The Prophet's Camel Bell, and used Africa as a setting for her first fictional work, a novel called This Side Jordan, and a collection of short stories, The Tomorrow Tamers. This Side Jordan received the 1961 Beta Sigma Phi Award for the best first novel by a Canadian. Laurence is best known, however, for her Manawaka books, which are set in Canada. They include The Stone Angel, The Fire Dwellers House, A Bird in the House, A Jest of God, and The Diviners. The latter two books both received the Governor General's Award, in 1967 and 1975, respectively. After living in Africa, England, and several other countries for many years, Laurence returned to Canada in 1974, settling in Lakefield, Ontario, where she remained until her death in 1987. The Energy Probe Research Foundation, an environmental organization for which she served as one of the directors, now sponsors the Margaret Laurence Fund for projects related to the environment and peace, areas in which Laurence was very active during the last decade of her life.

Nora Foster Stovel is Professor of English at the University of Alberta, where she teaches twentieth-century literature and Canadian women's fiction. She has published books and articles on Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Margaret Drabble, Carol Shields, and Margaret Laurence, most recently Divining Margaret Laurence: A Study of Her Complete Writings.

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