Leo Simpson's The Peacock Papers reproduces the prose style and the character types of Thomas Love Peacock's novels. Simpson's characters, like Peacock's, are a mixture of satirized individuals and satirized general tendencies. Many notable literary figures are among Simpson's cast of characters. It is possible that the anti-realist, experimental fiction of the late twentieth century owes something to Thomas Love Peacock.
George Bowering's poem "Baseball" is a fine example of the poetry of the Tish movement, which was related to the Black Mountain school of poetics of Charles Olson, Robert Creely, and others. "Baseball" simultaneously follows the rules of propriorception, universalism, kinetics, and objectism, and gently satirizes them. Quigly's article is a painstaking analysis of the poem.
Albert Laberge's La Scouine is heavily influenced by Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant. The extreme naturalism echoes the style and the themes of these writers. Laberge links himself with these writers through the deliberate perversion, distortion, and debasement of commonly idealized human values. La Scouine may be the first French Canadian example of fictional realism, disdaining the romance elements common to such works as Les Anciens Canadiens and Maria Chapdelaine. Laberge makes liberal use of the oppressive and the grotesque in his episodic narrative. Unlike the communal, idyllic nature of most French Canadian writing from this period, La Scouine is largely about a community radically estranged from humanizing conventions and values. This theme is later enlarged upon by Anne Hébert, Marie-Claire Blais, Roch Carrier, and others.
Four novels in particular from the late nineteenth century are highly suggestive about the perceived place of the Canadian artist: Thad W.H Leavitt's The Witch of Plum Hollow, Maud Ogilvy's Marie Gourdon, Joanna E. Wood's Judith Moore, and Sara Jeanette Duncan's Cousin Cinderella. Although Duncan's novel is almost certainly the best of these, they all have fairly distinctive notions about the Canadian artist at home and abroad. They each suggest a need for the nurturing qualities of place in which to create. There is a tendency in each novel for the characters to go elsewhere -- generally, to Europe -- to achieve a mature artistic education, and yet Canadian roots are absolutely vital to the artist in each case.
Metaphor points always to a sense of identity, and this identity is always, in some sense, regional. An important theme in literature is the difficulty or inability to discover this sense of identity. The dichotomy is between nature and civilization, and true identity can only come with a fusion of the two elements of our human experience. The relations between individuals corresponds with the relations between the community and the land. This correspondence takes the form of male-female relationships, or of dogma as antithetical to the human imagination.
Central to Alice Munro's writing style is her use of apparently incompatible terms or judgements. These conflicts or tensions sustain Munro's notion of the doubleness of reality. The fusion of disparate terms and ideas gives her prose the denseness and precision characteristic of poetry. Romanticism is challenged, and yet ordinary reality is also undermined. The co-existence of romance and perceived reality is perhaps closer to actual reality. While the distinctions and paradoxes are quite straightforward in Lives of Girls and Women, they become less confident and more ambiguous in Who Do You Think You Are?
Sinclair Ross' As For Me and My House has been read alternately as a regional, realist novel, and as a symbolic one. The difficulties for the reader that arise from this contradiction perhaps suggests that the narrative is imperfectly handled by Ross. The author strains at the limits of the epistolary or diaristic convention by making the reader usually "forget" that s/he is reading a diary. The novel appears to be a realist work of fiction, but there are many details -- and omissions -- which stretch the limits of realism, and which suggest a symbolic aspect that exists at the expense of realism. Mrs. Bentley, as narrator, may or may not be unreliable: there is, simply, no way of telling whether lucidity or obtuseness is the keynote of her character. The ambiguity of the novel is such that the reader can speculate endlessly, with little help or direction from the author.
The field notes of the character of Dawe in Robert Kroetsch's Badlands are not, properly, field notes at all, but rather are a way to mythologize himself as a hero. Kroetsch's suggestion is that the real maker and keeper of history is the artist, not the scientist (or, at least, not this particular scientist). The two principal settings -- river and desert -- imply the continuity of time, as well as constantly inverted notions of life and death: the river and the desert both sustain as well as kill.
Fear is a common element in Charles G.D. Roberts' short stories. Fear is expressed through symbolism and through spatial patterning in "The Stone Dog," "In the Accident Ward," "The Barn on the Marsh," and "The Hill of Chastisement." The stories were generated largely from Roberts' dreams, which is apparently the genesis of the strongly suggested symbolic pattern. The symbolism is related to the spatial patterning, in which a balance is achieved, a synthesis of parts that is akin to poetry.
Oliver Goldsmith's Rising Village has been virtually derided by critics like Pacey and Cogswell, and defended by Kenneth J. Hughes. Actually, the poem's worth falls somewhere in between the two opposing critical appraisals. The Rising Village mostly fails in its attempt at presenting the success story of Nova Scotia, but the attempt itself is not necessarily irredeemable. The poem recreates a well-worn, even clichéd account of the colonial mentality; it has more to do with England than with Canada. The generalisations and abstractions of the diction -- which critics have so frequently castigated -- are actually intentional on Goldsmith's part; nevertheless, they are not wholly effective.
Margaret Atwood's sense of time in her poetry is meant to convey a sweeping perspective: the past for her is historical, geological and mythic as well as personal. Atwood's poetry has moved from a preoccupation with the present to a preoccupation with the future. In her "Circe/Mud Poems," she examines the problem of inherited experience, and what this may or may not mean in terms of the future. The intellect is in opposition to the intuition. The relationship between men and women is the primary means of embodying the opposition or conflict in the poem. There are three levels of significance in these poems: the private, the banal, and the allegorical.