Five-Part Invention: A History of Literary History in Canada
Published: January 2005© 2003
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 400 Pages
Dimensions: 6.03 x 9.02
400 Pages, 6.03 x 9.02 x 1.06 in
The literary history of a nation is one of the main cornerstones of its national identity. As a result of Canada's diverse cultural history, however, its literary history is varied and, as E.D. Blodgett contends, is composed of five parts that work to create the whole. These parts include English Canada, French Canada, First Nations communities, Inuit communities, and immigrant communities. Using the critical writing on constructing nationhood, E.D. Blodgett suggests that Canadian literary histories can be used to address the problem of nation and to examine how each of the several 'national' groups that compose Canada develops unique narratives that demonstrate their different responses to the notion of nationhood and their sense of place within Canada's borders.
The first such history of its kind in Canada, Five-Part Invention offers a means of reading ethnic difference through cultural representations: the concentration on place and spatial configuration in English Canadian literature; the focus on time and history in French Canadian literature; the cultural trauma of the First Nations and Inuit literature; and the losses and ambiguous recoveries of ethnic minority writing. Blodgett concludes by addressing the roots of Canada's fragmented literary history and speculates on the reasons that this tradition continues today. Original, intelligent, and provocative, Five-Part Invention brings an entirely new perspective to the notion of literary history and will greatly influence the study of Canadian literature in the future.
'While the manuscript is largely readable and lively, it is also theoretically sophisticated, drawing with a certain grace at various points on the work of Lacan, White, Bourdieu, Merleau-Ponty, Said, and a host of theorists of literary history. It shows a depth of scholarly knowledge about both the theory and detailed practice of literary history, especially but not only in Canada … In it we learn much not only about literary history but about the reception of canonical (and non-canonical) texts over time: the tactic of returning to familiar turf a number of times from different literary historical perspectives is fruitful and enlightening.'Linda Hutcheon, Department of English, University of Toronto
'Professor Blodgett's [book] ... represents the first extensive and comparative compilation of commentary on literary histories produced in Canada ... A major contribution to research.'Sandra Djwa, Department of English, Simon Fraser University