You Can’t Get There From Here: The Past as Present in Small-Town Ontario Fiction

By Ryan Porter

© 2019

Rather than reading small-town representations within works as portraits of a provincial past, this book claims that they are best understood as projections emerging from an urban present. As Ontario urbanized over the past century, small towns became a popular literary trope, and Ryan Porter argues that literary small-town Ontario functioned, and functions still, as not only a refraction but also as an exploration of the province’s dominant urban modernity.

Utilizing theories from heritage scholars, who view popularly understood pasts as conforming to the zeitgeist of the present, You Can’t Get There from Here argues that the literary small-town Ontario past is malleable, consisting of attempts to come to terms with the present in which the narrators find themselves. The book focuses on four key Ontario authors – Stephen Leacock, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, and Jane Urquhart – as well as many secondary authors, and links the readings to much broader trends in actual Ontario towns and in popular culture.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005360

  • PUBLISHED APR 2019

    From: $45.00

    Regular Price: $60.00

    ISBN 9781487504243
  • PUBLISHED APR 2019

    From: $45.00

    Regular Price: $60.00

Quick Overview

This book traces literary representations of small-town Ontario in the last century and concludes that small-town Ontario takes the form of whatever is needed by the urban narrator who recalls it.

You Can’t Get There From Here: The Past as Present in Small-Town Ontario Fiction

By Ryan Porter

© 2019

Rather than reading small-town representations within works as portraits of a provincial past, this book claims that they are best understood as projections emerging from an urban present. As Ontario urbanized over the past century, small towns became a popular literary trope, and Ryan Porter argues that literary small-town Ontario functioned, and functions still, as not only a refraction but also as an exploration of the province’s dominant urban modernity.

Utilizing theories from heritage scholars, who view popularly understood pasts as conforming to the zeitgeist of the present, You Can’t Get There from Here argues that the literary small-town Ontario past is malleable, consisting of attempts to come to terms with the present in which the narrators find themselves. The book focuses on four key Ontario authors – Stephen Leacock, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, and Jane Urquhart – as well as many secondary authors, and links the readings to much broader trends in actual Ontario towns and in popular culture.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Interesting and thoughtful, You Can’t Get There From Here offers a portrait of small-town Ontario. In essence, this book is the representation of the past through the eyes of the present, a seminal trope in Canadian literature, and worthy of full analysis as presented by Ryan Porter."


    David Staines, Department of English, University of Ottawa

    "Beyond sound, the scholarship is impressive. Wholly appropriate and often imaginative, Porter makes the range of his readings and references especially clear, seamlessly shifting from a primary text to its scholarly context and back again."


    Robert Thacker, Charles A. Dana Professor in the Departments of Canadian Studies and English, St Lawrence University

    "Eminently readable, informative, and interesting!"


    Coral Ann Howells, Professor Emerita, University of Reading; Senior Research Fellow, Institute of English Studies, University of London.
  • Author Information

    Ryan Porter is Professor of Technical Communication at Algonquin College.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction: Projecting Difference − The Heritage of Small-Town and Rural Ontario

    1 Rural Past and Urban Present: Landscape as Time

    2 Saying Goodbye to Mariposa: Rebutting the Small-Town Convention

    3 Memory and Departure

    Part One: Synthesizing Memory – The Artist as Community
    Part Two: Departure, Return, Departure

    4 Past Dependencies and Consolatory Histories

    Conclusion: Reflecting on Nostalgia’s Restoration

    Works Cited and Consulted
    Index