Arnold propose un étude diachronique de la poésie québécoise de 1860-1980, en faisant remarquer un changement progressif mais lent dans le style et la poétique. On passe du romantisme et du classicisme au symbolisme et éventuellement au modernisme. Les premières décennies du vingtième siècle se concentrent aux conventions de la poésie traditionnelle tandis que les années suivantes se caractérisent par l'incertitude tant aux différentes formes qu'aux différents styles. Viennent s'entremêler les 'styles parlés,' incertains et discontinus, qui séparent la poésie dite "moderne" de la poésie traditionnelle. On passe de la poésie du terroir à une poésie de plus en plus urbaine. Plus on approche l'ère contemporaine, plus on adopte une liberté prosodique. Pendant la Révolution tranquille, on remarque une poésie politisée, engagée à créer une nouvelle nation indépendante. Quant aux poètes des années 70, ils sont plutôt influencés par la sémiotique et le structuralisme. Bien que l'on puisse discerner des tendances au niveau de la poésie québécoise, il serait dangereux de la définir d'une façon précise puisqu'elle est en évolution constante.
Marjorie Pickthall's verse might best be described as an intense apostrophe to literary beauty: a turning away from the trial to address the judges in impassioned language that an audience may only overhear. Her poems draw upon a body of literary precedents in order to construct a coherent and fantastic defence against unsatisfied desire and what she perceived to be a fundamental incoherence in modern life. Pickthall's lyrics represent a species of early modern poetry which developed in Canada before the New Provinces poets privileged irony over beauty and truth.
Personal ambivalence is a formal strategy in the poetic and narrative work of D.C. Scott. Because he saw his cultural contexts as grounds of vital moral struggle, Scott often depicted his poetic personas or fictional characters as drawn by opposing desires. The result is a recurring pattern, narrative or rhetorical depending upon the genre: a bipolar path of desire. This circular, bipolar path captures symbolically a dynamic moral ambivalence, suggesting, at the same time, a desire to be consumed by the difference that is the Other, and a desire to extend the Self as an informing and ordering presence into the unstructured void of Otherness. In the poems, the Other is often death; in the stories, the Other can be the community, the family, or another individual.
Even though A Jest of God is written in a narrow first-person-present narrative, Laurence does not abandon readers to Rachel Cameron's singular, grim vision. Indeed, Rachel is not solely negative; her fantasies, dreams, and semi-conscious preoccupations are alive with sensuality, glamour, and fearful excitement. Laurence reveals this hidden life to us through her own poetic gift: the use of rich imagery -- metaphoric language and situations, strong descriptive scenes, frequent Biblical allusions. Taken together, these techniques illuminate Rachel's world and character, explain her slow change, and explicate the novel's major thematic issues. Laurence rescues the first-person narrator through imagery, that is, through the sequential or simultaneous juxtaposition of positives and negatives, sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, often incrementally suggestive.
The question of moral responsibility, the question that led Robertson Davies to write the Deptford trilogy, is continually before us throughout all three novels. At no point is the subjective point of view of the central characters allowed to go unchallenged. Instead, Davies has built his fictional world on an elaborate dialectical structure that allows him to test the perspectives of his protagonists by analyzing their points of view in the light of facts, the rules of reason, and universal human experience. Therefore, one can see that dialectic is not only present in the Deptford trilogy, but that it forms the moral backbone of all three novels. To recognize this is to acknowledge Davies's unquestionable achievement as a moral novelist.
Whereas the historian's role is, first and foremost, to explain the past, to make it understandable in terms of today's norms and values, fiction can create meaningful "realities" that people may never perceive otherwise, and even bring about changes in our conventional attitudes toward the world. The historical fiction of Rudy Wiebe's The Temptations of Big Bear and George Bowering's Burning Water not only brings the past to life, but it succeeds in changing our interpretation of it. By telling an "other side" of Canadian history, one that has not found its way into the accepted world view of White historiography, Wiebe achieves more or less the same effect as does Bowering by parodying the conventions of historical and realist fiction. Both provoke the reader's awareness of the omnipresence of historical and cultural conditions and of the need to look beyond the conventionalized perceptions of reality, beyond, that is, the apparent objectivity, representativity, and unchangeability of stories.
George Bowering's Burning Water is an ambitious and largely successful treatment of the nature of imagination. The story of George Vancouver's exploration of the west coast of North America becomes, in Bowering's hands, an exercise in historical reconstruction, an analysis of imagination in life and art, and an essay in postmodern self-consciousness. The novel succeeds because it is interesting and funny, and because its discussion of imagination, which owes much to Coleridge and the other Romantics, avoids easy answers. Bowering is aware of all the things which can interfere with imaginative perception -- personal fears, received ideas, rationalism, our teachers' influence. It is hard enough to see clearly and make a life for ourselves, harder still to create for others as the historian and artist do. Failure is the norm, and success is always imperfect. But the fascination with what is difficult ensures that lovers, explorers, and writers will continue to dream and create.
Amprimoz se dit soucieux de faire reconnaître Prochain épisode d'Hubert Aquin comme son plus important roman, le seul à ne pas être érotique, voire pornographique. Dans l'analyse de trois critiques d'Aquin, Amprimoz résume les bons et les mauvais côtés de leurs écrits: les rapports entre la Révolution et l'Écriture dans Prochain épisode, la non-distinction des plans idéologiques et esthétiques chez Aquin, et l'évaluation mytho-critique qui risque de dévaloriser une oeuvre qui mérite mieux. Amprimoz fait ensuite une analyse de l'univers imaginaire de Prochain épisode en décrivant l'imagination spatiale et l'espace du récit à l'aide de graphiques, de tableaux et d'annexes.
Post-modern poets have been accused of being writers "who often seem devoted to experiment as an activity so autonomous that its results often pass far beyond the ever-refined precision demanded by modernism into realms of esoteric obscurity the modernists would have found repellent" (Woodcock). However, poets such as Nichol, Bowering, Davey, and Ondaatje do not reach unacceptable heights of esotery, do not ignore content and assess literature solely by form, and do not denigrate traditional literature. Indeed, post-modern poets can be seen as similar to computer hackers who are also interested in creation for creation's sake, as well as in innovation, style, and technical virtuosity. Hackers and post-modern poets enjoy playing games with language and form, and, for both, the ultimate reward is the moment of discovery.
D.B. Jewison has argued in his discussion of Mavis Gallant's "Its Image on the Mirror" that a careful reading reveals there is "considerable confusion" over dates in Jean's narrative, and he goes on to draw some significant conclusions from this premise. However, "considerable confusion" is a decided exaggeration. The only instance of undoubted discrepancy is Jean's dating of Isobel's second marriage (which could be a misprint or a slip-up by Gallant). Jean does not contradict herself concerning Suzanne's age, nor is she mistaken about Poppy's age. And, even though Gallant does challenge the reliability of memory throughout the work, this is no reason to think Jean Price is an unreliable narrator.