Our Intellectual Strength and Weakness: 'English-Canadian Literature' and 'French-Canadian Literature'
These three works, displaying marked differences in purpose, tone, and effect, are all classics of Canadian literary and cultural criticism.
John George Bourinot was a man of letters, an Imperialist, and a biculturalist, who was confident of his knowledge of the Canadian identity and felt it to be his public mission to align reality with his own personal vision. Writing in 1893 to the élite represented by the members of the Royal Society, he described his work as ‘a monograph on the intellectual development of the Dominion,’ describing ‘the progress of culture in a country still struggling with the difficulties of the material development of half a continent.’
Two decades later, Thomas Guthrie Marquis and Camille Roy wrote what were, in contrast, specialized assignments, contributions to the compendium history, Canada and Its Provinces (1913). Addressing a far larger audience, and treating a vastly enlarged body of Canadian literature, their work comes much closer to contemporary scholarship, with greater clarity, organization, and sheer bulk of information, but with the loss of some of the charm and assurance of Bourinot’s wide sweep. In further contrast to Bourinot’s determined biculturalism and will to unity, Roy and Marquis’ essays display vivid differences in the emotional allegiances and convictions of the founding cultures. Marquis starts by asking the question, ‘Has Canada a voice of her own in literature distinct from that of England?’; Roy treats French-Canadian literature in its Roman Catholic contexts.
- Series: Heritage
- World Rights
- Page Count: 298 pages
- Dimensions: 5.5in x 1.0in x 8.5in
Sir John George Bourinot (1837-1902) was born in Nova Scotia and educated at the University of Toronto; he was the founder and editor of The Halifax Herald and Clerk of the House of Commons from 1880 until his death in 1902.
Thomas Guthrie Marquis (1864-1936) was educated at Queen's University, taught school for a number of years, and went on to become a free-lance journalist. He also held various positions in the book trade.
Camille Roy (1870-1943) was a professor of literature at Laval University. As a teacher, critic, and orator, Mgr Roy exerted much influence on the development of French-Canadian literature.
Clara Thomas (1919-2013) was a professor emerita of English at York University. Through her publishing, teaching and public speaking, she continuously sought to raise the profile of Canadian women writers both within the country and within the international community.
Douglas Lochhead (1922-2011) was a professor emeritus of Mount Allison University.
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