Women writers of Quebec (Gabrielle Roy, Anne Hébert, Marie-Claire Blais, Denise Boucher, Louky Bersianik, Jovette Marchessault, and Nicole Brossard) are a collective force which demystifies, de-constructs, and shatters patriarchal values, and which offers feminist alternatives for the recreation of our world. Having created the poetic novel, as well as the novel of parody, literary genres for which Quebec is by now well-known, they express in these works their concern with oppression, as well as with difference, woman being the Other, different from man, speaking in a voice different from patriarchal discourse. Their subversive texts are stepping-stones on the path to new forms of being and of writing, to a future which, if they and women in general are heard, may well be less destructive.
Irving Layton's love poetry is neither a celebration of women nor an enduring tribute to the women who have touched his life; yet, to call his poetry sexist, to brand him a male chauvinist and leave it at that, does little but to state the obvious. A close examination of Layton's work, applying some of the theories of feminist criticism, reveals his immature attitude toward women and sex, and his belief that men are superior, both physically and intellectually, to women. It also exposes Layton as a misogynist, with particular hatred and fear of the woman artist.
The Malecites, a relatively small group of Indians who live along the Saint John River in New Brunswick, have stories which contain three fascinating features: their focus on the realities of Indian life; their focus on the supernatural; and their deep, human wisdom. Sometimes these stories revolve around the mythological characters Glooscap, Meekkomowess, and Alesko. There are also many medicine and witch doctor stories in the Malecite tradition, as well as tales about witches (good and bad), little men, and ghosts. Malecite stories also focus on such things as human culture, dreams and reality, old Indian habits and styles, social history, trade, weather prediction, and humour. Finally, there are Malecite children's stories which can be seen as analogous to European fairy-tales.
Despite its cautionary themes, O'Hagan's Tay John represents the exhilarating moment in which literary text interrogates the cultural and literary values of the Western tradition and departs from them to reconstruct a new myth that is specific to Alberta, Canada, in the postmodernist era. The old myths dismantled are the Christian division of spirit and flesh, the egocentric self, the use of language and story as means of subduing nature, the process of knowing through intellectual dominance, the myth of the world-dominating male, the centralist and imperialist concepts of culture, and ideology as teleos. The new myth is of the soul as an integration of mind and body; of the self as fluid, reactive, mercurial; of fiction as mysterious; of knowing as a matter "feeling with" rather than solely "thinking about"; of a revaluation of the feminine and how it may rebalance patriarchal culture; of a cultural pluralism in Canada; and of life as shifting and contrapuntal, silencing all of our Great Truths in its own protean continuance.
Even as certain Canadian Mennonite writers objectify (and so appear to threaten, and even subvert) the conventions and rituals that sustain the Mennonites' centuries-old identity as "a people apart," many of them employ linguistic devices that function to endorse and support the Mennonites' exclusivistic culture -- characterized by the affirmation of the insider and suspicion of the outsider. Indeed, through the persistent use of a linguistic discourse that often only "insiders" can understand -- by their use, that is, of mother tongue (German and Low German) -- these writers maintain, and perhaps even extend, the barriers that separate the Mennonites' minority culture from the contemporary social order.
Richard Taylor's Tender Only to One is best interpreted within the framework of five questions and answers which provide five different explorations of the relationships between painting and writing. First, does the form of the novel lend itself to a comparison with some characteristics of painting? Second, in those sections of the book establishing a link with the visual arts by reference to well-known painters, is the writing to be construed as biographical or fictional? The next question is: why did Taylor choose these particular painters and not others? The penultimate question is: what do these painters and the novel's own characters share? Finally, is there any kind of reference to particular pictures in the novel, and, if so, what is their function?
In Timothy Findley's fiction, the act of looking at a person or a thing is an act which helps to define both individual characters and relationships among characters, and which tells us about the kind of world in which they operate. Indeed, most of Findley's characters spend most of their time simply watching other people and themselves. Hence, we note the vantage points in Findley's terrain and the need for sharp eyes, binoculars, telescopes, cameras, and mirrors. In the short story collection Dinner Along the Amazon, sight is used for at least five purposes: to get the lay of the land; to locate oneself; to obtain gratification; to communicate emotion or information; and to attack or threaten.
In his poetry and fiction, Michael Ondaatje has shown a concern for both the power and the emotive limitations of words. He has grown increasingly interested both in making his words more public and accessible, and in the dynamic elements of other artforms that make such communalization possible. To some extent, his poetry constitutes a kind of exorcism, an exercise aimed at confirming and refining a unique approach to writing. With Coming Through Slaughter, Ondaatje shows that his personal aesthetic is fully matured, for it represents a complicated and successful fusion of kinetic artforms and the physical rhythms on which they depend. Through this integration, Ondaatje has transfigured words into Word and has made his writing more tangible, more true, and more immediately accessible to his readers.
Bentley, having purchased a copy of Lyrics on Freedom, Love and Death by George Frederick Cameron once owned by Charles J. Cameron (the poet's brother), reproduces in full the emendations and annotations made by Charles Cameron on the poems. These annotations have considerable editorial and biographical importance, identifying, for example, the subject of a number of love poems.
Née dans un mileu familial relativement cultivé, Antonine Maillet a commencé à écrire contes et poèmes assez jeune. Ses textes découlant de la tradition orale, Maillet se dit la charnière entre la littérature acadienne orale et écrite. Pour elle, écrire c'est vivre une portion d'elle-même, si bien que la majorité de ses personnages sont inspirés de gens vivant autour d'elle. La généalogie et l'histoire sont aussi des thèmes qui traversent son oeuvre. Femme et acadienne, elle se dit consciente d'être minoritaire et que, bien qu'elle demeure à Montréal, l'Acadie, bien plus une culture qu'un simple lieu géographique, est encore son chez soi. Maillet crédite de nombreuses influences dont Rabelais, Balzac, Faulkner et Garcia Marquez, et affirme que sa langue maternelle n'a jamais été et ne sera jamais un handicap sur la scène internationale.