Susan Swan's The Biggest Modern Woman of the World is a novel that desires to be both postmodern/Victorian and fictional/ historical. Within the nineteenth-century framework of the novel, modernity exceeds traditional norms in order to include sexual and national politics. Modernity is configured allegorically as allegory suggests the semiotics of otherness, be it the otherness of discourse, gender, or nation. As a Canadian woman, Anna becomes an allegory, imaging the vast Canadian landscape. Susan Swan inscribes her historical other, Anna Haining Swan, within those historical gaps that denied Anna's modernity its full expression. The Freudian/Lacanian premise that anatomical difference figures sexual difference becomes an analogue of the Victorian ethos. Anna's modernity undoes the sexual and political codes of her life: her autobiographical text becomes the only space that can contain her desires.
Nicole Brossard's L'Amèr undercuts and disarms the hegemony of the phallocentric signifier; the text destabilizes any fixed, authoritative relationship of exchange between writer and reader. The syntactical fragments of the text parallel the deconstructive activity of the depicted narrator, who explicitly juxtaposes an act of violence with an act of writing; the violence of the narrator symbolizes the rejection of the inarticulate pain of the hysteric, who harms herself to attract attention. Brossard's text demonstrates that linguistic activity has always been intimately connected with man's oppression of women, and any attempt to do violence to such oppression necessarily entails an attempt to do violence to discourse -- language is the site of struggle. Brossard's text focuses on the material corporeality of writing rather than the efficient production of meaning. The lesbian experience defies the control of phallocentric ideology by imbricating the poetic and the erotic -- the narrator breaks the "sentence," the linguistic prison, in order to synthesize the poetic (the body of the text) and the erotic (the text of the body) into a "cortex": a body language resistant to the violent abstractions of masculine discourse.
Vautier discute de l'aspect réaliste magique et postcolonial du roman La Tribu (1981) de François Barcelo en se basant sur les théories d'Alejo Carpentier et de Stephen Slemon. Au Québec, après l'échec du référendum de 1980, on commence à noter un rapport entre le roman réaliste et l'attitude postcoloniale vis-à-vis l'Histoire. Le roman de Barcelo peut donc être lu comme postcolonial puisqu'il répond à cinq éléments importants: les questions de la langue, les raccourcis parodiques de l'Histoire, la méfiance face au texte historique "authentique" européen, le désir de poser un défi à la notion du "centre," et l'utilisation humoristique de l'Histoire et du peuple québécois.
Zionism was part of A.M. Klein's heritage, and as early as 1928-30 Klein was writing poems about Jewish oppression, survival, and transcendence of historical fate. Unfortunately, Klein's preoccupation with Jewish suffering and the need for a sanctuary-homeland predisposed him to a narrowly Zionist view of the Palestinian conflict. For the Zionists, the Palestinians were either the Other -- a people with no legitimate claim to the land -- or an absence. Klein's Zionist poetry suggests the tension required between opposition and longed-for fellowship in Palestine would be resolved once Zion was secured for the Jews. Although this rationalization seems naive or self-serving now, from 1927-51, as demonstrated in Klein's Zionist poetry and journalism, it was A.M. Klein's only formula for hope.
In What the Crow Said, Robert Kroetsch undermines binaries, collapsing them into parodic extremes, and offers text in their place, a place where the dynamics of binary relations are enacted. The master narrative of what Hélène Cixous calls dual, hierarchized oppositions drives patriarchal society, especially through sexual and social relationships. What the Crow Said derives much of its energy from the opposition between masculine and feminine; the fiction of this pair demonstrates its unreality as an absolute, essential structure. Kroetsch foregoes a final implosion of this binary by allowing traces of ambiguity to undermine the absolute position of his characters. Binaries are parodied until they collapse; however, the pairs are not denied. Binaries in the novel function as dynamic relationships.
The literature of exploration was an important proto-form of Canada's literary experience. Although Northrop Frye declared that the writings of early explorers was "innocent of literary intent," more recent criticism focuses on these works as intentionally created literary documents. Careful scrutiny reveals subtle differences between Sir John Franklin's journals for his land expeditions to the northwest coast of North American in 1819-22 and 1825-27 and the later public accounts based on these journals -- Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea (1823) and Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea (1828). The first account is a mechanical and official retelling of a highly-publicized event; the second is a structured account written for an anticipated audience. Readers of Franklin's narrative are given not history, a non-fictional account of an important geographical and historical event, but his story, Franklin's structured version of what happened.
Anne Hébert's Les Fous de Bassan, like William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, is a story of rape and the murder of female victims. Although Hébert's novel mirrors much of Faulkner's style, themes, symbolism, and even characters and narrators, it also underscores the masculine bias of the Faulkner canon. Hébert and Faulkner's work share a regional flavour, a focus on dying communities, and a thematic interweaving of loss of history and tradition with the resulting decline of spiritual values and morality; however, Hébert's novel presents female as subject rather than object. Hébert's Les Fous de Bassan and Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Light in August revolve around conflicts between men and women that externalize internal conflicts in men which lead to the violent victimization of women, but Hébert allows a female perspective to emerge which debases and satirizes the masculine bias of Faulkner's version and vision of these conflicts.
Elizabeth Smart's journals constitute the bulk of her writing; they are crucial to the development of her artistic form and play an integral role in her writing process. Smart's journals have distinctive characteristics -- truthfulness, credibility, compression, and intimacy -- and Smart uses them to create a new literary form: the novel-journal. Her journals evolve from external to internal observations, moving towards a developed form in which Smart portrays her life as crafted art. Smart makes minimal changes between the seven corresponding sections of her journal drafts and the published text of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept: the changes result in a more emotive, unified, clear, and focused text. Shirley Neuman's statement that "the writing is the life" is an apt description of Smart's life and writing -- just as Smart lives segments of her life as art, so she also sees writing as life.
Gerry links Gwendolyn MacEwen's poetry with the Canadian mystical tradition, referring back to Nova Scotia mystic, Norman Alline, and writer David Willson, an ex-Quaker who founded the Children of Peace. All three mystics use language to open the reader to a renewed sense of life's possibilities. Both Alline and Willson drew their imagery from the tradition of German mystic Jacob Boehme. MacEwen's distinctive stance derives in part from her feminism: MacEwen subverts the dominant discourse of male mysticism in order to voice herself as woman and mystic. MacEwen de-emphasizes the disputing of opposites to reveal a transitional passage (a birth) between polarities.
Malgré le titre du roman de Réjean Ducharme, Les Enfantômes, aucun des personnages n'est un enfant. Plutôt, on y retrouve un narrateur hanté par la mort de sa mère et le désir de retrouver son enfance idéalisée. L'importance de l'enfance est caractérisée par l'évocation de la mère dans la métamorphose des personnages féminins. Le narrateur du texte est à la quête d'un amour tant spirituel que physique. Ce dernier, par l'example du narrateur et de sa soeur, devient un désir irréalisé, voire malsain. Le modèle actantiel du roman révèle des relations entre les actants féminins et l'actant-sujet. À la fin du roman, l'amour maternel que recherche le narrateur chez mère, soeur, épouse et amante, par l'évocation subjective et non-linéaire, devient impossible à atteindre.
Roland Barthes argues that the photograph retains a mystique artifice, that it is a "certificate of presence" of past existence, although the meaning of the existence remains undisclosed. John Berger, like Barthes, believes in the opacity of meaning in the photograph and the vital role of both memory and the spectator in granting meaning to the image. But, as Susan Sontag argues, photographs are open to manipulation as their presence is combined with silence. For Janette Turner Hospital, the relationship between memory and the image allows the viewer of a photograph to rewrite the narrative inherited from the past with meanings appropriate to the present. Hospital's fundamental concerns are how to read meaning in appearances and the necessity of the transfiguration of memory. In Borderline, a photograph becomes the bearer of the past into the present. Although photographs offer magical and apparently transparent reference to the unattainable past, they hover on the borders between worlds, offering possible sites for fictions of transfiguration.
Bill Gaston is a master of comic incongruity, able to translate the excesses of our culture into the exaggerated peculiarities of his characters. Gaston says that his teenage years in Dollarton, B.C., paralleled the idyllic, rabble-rousing world of his short fiction in Deep Cove Stories. He describes his work as "artful exaggeration": his first novel, Tall Lives, plays with fictional convention, draws attention to artifice, and dabbles in scatalogical excess. Gaston believes his role as a writer is partly to entertain and partly to record a positive version of truth.