Canadian magic realist texts are often identified with postcolonialism and postmodernism. Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall On Your Knees provocatively reworks the formal and thematic dimensions of magic realism by presenting a story of a mixed-race Cape Breton family from a lesbian feminist perspective, demonstrating that the Maritimes can be a viable setting for magic realist works. Through her magic realist treatment of characters, MacDonald begins to explore the race, gender and sexual politics that exist both within the Piper family and the community at large. Fall On Your Knees displays a heightened awareness of other literary texts and cultivates a consciously metafictional approach to the writing of fiction. The novel combines an exploration of the nature and limits of the knowable and a playful recreation of history with a realistic presentation of specific political concerns.
Jane Urquhart's Away provides a moving illustration of Eli Wiesel's adage that "the opposite of history is forgetfulness." As a historical novel, Away lacks the discursive heterogeneity and interrogativeness typical of the historiographical metafiction so prevalent in recent English-Canadian novels. Instead, its blending of historical realism and the marvelous provides a more seamless and less openly dialogic postcolonial historicizing of myth, raising questions about migration, identity, power, and the force of nationalism. Away also provides an allegorical engagement with the degradation of the environment in contemporary capitalist society. The generic features of magic realism are aptly suited to dramatizing the complex relationship between myth, history, politics, and cultural identification, as the rich blend of historical realism, fantasy and folklore in Away illustrates.
À compter de 1884, Hermine Lanctôt publie diverses chroniques et articles dans Le Monde illustré sous les pseudonymes d'Hermance, de Ninette et d'Angéline. Ces noms cachent des personnages hétéronymiques : Hermine est mère de famille et autodidacte; Hermance est sous-maîtresse au primaire et vieille fille; Ninette, capricieuse, fume et joue aux cartes et Angéline est rêveuse. Selon Albert Dauzat, l'usage de pseudonymes implique deux choses : soit les écrits ou l'acte d'écrire ne sont pas acceptés par la société soit l'écrivain n'aime pas son nom. Sous la plume d'Hermance, Lanctôt avoue qu'elle reste « abritée »; peut-être voulait-elle également créer une illusion de plusieurs femmes journalistes, ou encore tromper ses lecteurs à fin de pouvoir dévoiler des identités contradictoires sans ternir sa propre image.
Mary Melfi's Infertility Rites can be seen as a record of one woman's struggle for control of her body, both in a social and biological sense; it is a struggle she is bound to lose as long as she treats her body as an enemy rather than an ally. Nina's sense of herself as a woman is determined by her ethnic background, where "Canadianness" rubs against "Italianness," as well as by other dichotomies around which her life is structured such as work/home, public/private, motherhood/infertility, sexism/political correctness, immigrant/mainstream or patriarchal/feminist. Nina's increasingly essentialized sense of femininity is projected in the novel as the function of her ethnicity. Her gradual fall into her own body seems to her like a retreat into a new country that is at war with itself. Melfi's metafictional novel, like Nina's subjectivity, is invaded and traversed by many contending discourses. Melfi's insertion of "studies" - brief notes based on statistical data and scientific research - is an important structural device that enhances the novel's focus on female subjectivity as animated by contradictions.
The central issue in Sir John Franklin's Journals and Correspondence: The First Arctic Land Expedition, 1819-1922 is the failure of the expedition and the loss of eleven crew members. To the explorers, the Arctic was useful only as an ideological and textual construct. They came to the Arctic intent on proving the mettle of a nineteenth-century ideology, concerned with the British reading public and the progress of their own careers. To the explorers, the Arctic was not a "place," in Heideggarian terms, but simply a "blank" space on a map. Even in John Franklin's official Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of The Polar Sea in the Years 1819, 20, 21, and 22, the land seems to resist the explorers's strategy of re-writing the Arctic in the terms of their own discourse. This resistance gives rise to a tension most notable in a series of negotiations between the explorers, the land, and the people; in fact, the land's resistance fed into the explorers' masculinist and colonialist discourse. Throughout the sequence of exploration, colonization, and cultivation, the same fundamental theme predominates: it is only through European activity that land can be redeemed from nothingness.
Informed by the crisis of representation, John Moss discovers in Enduring Dreams: An Exploration of Arctic Landscape that he cannot write a book about the north without considering the long history of Arctic narrative and the textualization of Arctic space. Ostensibly a book about the Arctic, Enduring Dreams is actually a text about texts. Moss is drawn to the mythic nature of the north and its place in a Canadian consciousness; yet he recognizes that it is a space already textually overdetermined. His crossing of generic borders, his emphasis on the physicality of reading and writing, and his vast range of intertexts all serve to foreground his postmodern reflexive project. By insisting on the impossibility of narrating a "true" or "real" Arctic landscape, by refusing to historicize or contextualize within a material reality, and by resorting instead to the act of confession, Moss's text actually helps to strengthen the mythic nature of the north rather than challenge it. Like that of the explorers, adventurers, ethnographers, and artists he draws on, Moss's white, male, southern perspective creates a web of mystery around the north that effectively silences the land and people.
Daphne Marlatt speaks about her interest in conversation, oral culture, and the dialogic in writing. She describes her experiences collaborating with writers such as Betsy Warland and Nicole Brossard, arguing that writers always unintentionally collaborate with others. Marlatt speaks of herself as a feminist writer and resists defining women's writing. She speaks about Ana Historic as translation and as a narrative that negotiates space for stories forgotten or not yet imagined. She also discusses the woman-to-woman relationships in her novel Taken.