Desmond Pacey's career as a critic of Canadian literature and criticism, beginning with his prefiguring of a pattern later developed by others such as A.J.M. Smith and John Sutherland, ultimately ends with his confirming the lines of regional decentralization that follow from Northrop Frye's re-creation of that very same early work. An outline of Pacey's career in effect traces the trajectory of the work of Smith, Sutherland, and Frye, and, as do all reflections, it actually serves to reverse what it ostensibly replicates. A re-examination of Pacey's history of Canadian literature reveals its movements of retreat, re-inscription, and relocation; its most characteristic leanings are toward ambivalence and paradox. Despite Pacey's striving for a sort of synthesis in the history of Canadian literature, his history ends in a representation of manifold division. Similarly, his history of Canadian literary criticism ends in binary opposition, maturity deferred.
La fonction du narrateur dans le conte québécois du XIXe siècle est de transmettre l'oralité et la légende associées aux anciennes histoires racontées, aux versions écrites contemporaines, notamment dans les œuvres de Fréchette, Beaugrand, Lemay, Taché et de Gaspé. Sans éclipser leurs origines didactiques morales, les fonctions de la grille narratologique de Gérard Genette soulignent les éléments paralinguistiques de ces récits. Tandis que certains conteurs écrivent « pour oreilles », d'autres privilégient un style littéraire soutenu diminuant ainsi la crédibilité et l'authenticité du narrateur. Divers écrivains-conteurs utilisent également la métanarration, l'encadrement du récit par un narrateur qui présente aux lecteurs un racontar. En fin de compte, le passage de la culture orale à la culture littéraire n'érode pas les valeurs, assurant plutôt la préservation de l'héritage national.
Thomas Chandler Haliburton's most famous character, nineteenth-century New Englander and hero of The Clockmaker series Sam Slick, suffers from an poor critical reception that would seem to be the result of personal infamy. In fact, while there is much to legitimately find distasteful in Slick -- his sexism and advocacy of slavery, for instance -- his great international success with contemporary readers suggests that Haliburton's creation has remained, for the most part, a critically misconstrued character. A careful scrutiny of both The Clockmaker series and the critical attention paid it reveals a Sam Slick to whom the critics have been oddly oblivious. While Slick's character is inextricable from his satiric function in Haliburton's series, a closer reading helps in the recognition of Slick's more admirable traits, such as an impressive self-knowledge and a very realistic sense of dialect, which had hitherto lain unobserved amongst his faults.
While Beautiful Losers deserves its reputation as a subversive text insomuch as its overall libidinal freedom -- the "obscene" references to the anal and scatological in particular -- can be seen as disrupting sexual norms, in the end Cohen's example of what Linda Hutcheon tags "postmodern metafiction" simply reinscribes and reaffirms the (hetero)normative order of dominant knowledges, social hierarchies, and binary oppositions. An analysis of Beautiful Losers drawing on the criticism of Irigaray, Sedgwick, and Seidman suggests that despite postmodern claims for Cohen's disruption of traditional constructions and understandings of gendered identities in his narrative, the novel is still governed by a rhetoric of hierarchical dominant male discourses. The traffic in alterity presented in Cohen's text is falsely congruent with the presumption that simple evocation of otherness implies understanding and knowledge of the Other's specific and discrete difference.
Margaret Atwood's novel Alias Grace, by exploring the story of Grace Marks through an authorial mosaic that includes multiple characters' points of view, as well as journal entries, letters, and other bits of prose and journalism relevant to her trial, invites a reading through the lens of Bakhtin's theory of heteroglossia. In particular, various objects throughout Alias Grace provide instances of heteroglossic intersection, especially during the exchanges between Grace and Dr. Jordan and over the course of her trial. The irresolution created by competing systems of coding in these instances corresponds to what some have labelled Atwood's use of "feminist-dialogic" speech as a resistant language mode. This frustrated speech and the concept of heteroglossia allow for readings of objects within the novel as both closed and opened, ultimately offering a multiplicity of readings that creates a text as unbounded as the main character.
No Canadian writer has been as insistent in the belief that life and story -- that living the story and storying the life -- are two sides of the same experience as has Robert Kroetsch. In his para-autobiography, A Likely Story: The Writing Life, Kroetsch spends much time talking around this very idea, dealing extensively with issues of performative self-/historical construction. In fact, it is extremely fruitful to examine a particular strand in Canadian fiction, what Alistair Fowler calls poioumenon (that is, novels in which the main plot is itself about the writing of a novel), using Kroetsch's theory as a lens. Such analysis can be extended both backwards and forwards to provide illuminating readings of texts as varied as Laurence's The Diviners, Callaghan's A Fine and Private Place, Davies's Deptford Trilogy, and Vassanji's The Book of Secrets. Each of these works, along with numerous others, neatly fits Kroetsch's theory that by telling, we create.
Moyez Vassanji speaks to Shane Rhodes of his personal history of movings, the radical diversity in his life that has resulting from them, and how they affect his writing. Vassanji also notes his visits to India and that fact that the country demands a response from him as a writer. In discussing The Gunny Sack and his novels No New Land and The Book of Secrets, Vassanji also touches on the importance in his work of storyteller characters, deals with history and issues of colonialism, and comments the ways in which religious objects become mysterious, as well as the relationship between sex and mystery in his writing.