An Independent Stance: Essays on English-Canadian Criticism and Fiction

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The Porcupine's Quill, 1991 - Literary Criticism - 311 pages
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Part One of this strongly worded, informed, and wide-ranging collection examines key issues for the future of Canadian criticism. Part Two offers new readings of important works by Grove, Wilson, MacLennan, Davies, Laurence, Hood, Wiebe, Hodgins, and Atwood. As W.J. Keith argues, `We still have a mission: to have our literature recognized as an essential reflection of our national life. This is what I mean by retrenchment and consolidation. Literature can survive without literary criticism but it cannot survive if it is unknown and unread. It is criticism's prime function at the present time to see that it is both known and read with that mature enjoyment which is a combination of emotional sensitivity and humane intelligence. As critics, scholars, editors, we shall not be fulfilling our responsibilities or justifying our existence if we attempt anything less.' Or as Keith modestly observes in his introduction to this collection, `If this book is of any interest, it will be because Canadian literature is an important subject. Literary commentators like myself are middle-men, and should be prepared to admit the fact. If this book succeeds in helping readers to appreciate the works of Canadian writers that I discuss, and to derive increased pleasure and insight from them, it will have served its purpose. I can see no other justification for it -- or for any other work of criticism.'

 

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Contents

On the Need for an Independent Stance
9
The Thematic Approach to Canadian Fiction
24
Louis Dudek
47
The Quest for the Instant Canadian Classic
79
Ethel Wilson Providence
150
Hugh MacLennan
166
Document and Invention
175
The NotSoDivine Comedy of Robertson Davies
191
The Case for Hugh Hood
234
Two Reviews of Rudy Wiebe
241
Biographical Note
313
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About the author (1991)

W. J. Keith was born and raised in England. He came to Canada in 1958 where he taught at McMaster (1961-66), then at the University of Toronto (1966-95). Since 1995 he has held the position of Professor Emeritus of English at University College, University of Toronto.W. J. Keith edited the University of Toronto Quarterly (1976-85), and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1979.An updated version of Canadian Literature in English was published

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