The Old World and the New: Literary Perspectives of German-speaking Canadians
German-speaking Canadians from various national and cultural backgrounds – German, Austrian, Swiss, Mennonite – make up the third largest ethnic group in Canada. Yet despite their prominence and achievements, The Old World and the New is the first book to explore the contributions of men and women in this group to the Canadian literary tradition.
These writers underwent vastly different experiences as immigrants in twentieth-century Canada. Else Seel left behind the dynamic literary life of Berlin at the same time of the Weimar Republic to become a settler’s wife in the interior of British Columbia, a latter-day Susanna Moodie. Frederick Philip Grove did his best to cloud his past, though his European literary roots remained strong, and became part of the Canadian mainstream. Ulrich Schaffer, in his search meaning in today’s world, drew intensely on two homelands and on his religious faith, but remains virtually unknown in his adopted country.
Henry Kriesel, Carl Wiselbreger, and Charles Wassermann came to Canada as political refugees, spent time in internment camps, then with freedom found the inspiration to begin anew. Walter Bauer experienced Canada through the burden of his European ‘luggage’ – his memories of two devastating world wars and his ‘desperate love for Europe’; like his distinguished Swiss contemporary Hermann Boschenstein, he became a professor of German at the University of Toronto. The Mennonite writers surveyed here, including Rudy Wiebe and Patrick Firesen, portray in their writing the traditions of suffering in exile and longing for a lost homeland.
As immigrants, these writers faced alienation and the force of assimilation, rootlessness and the satisfaction of survival. Central to their creative works are the themes of exile, adjustment to a new way of life, and the interplay of two homelands, Canada and Europe, and two worlds, the Old and New.
The Old World and the New is an important expression of the literary voice of German-speaking Canadians. It also reflects the variety and sophistication of Canada’s literary culture.
- Series: Heritage
- World Rights
- Page Count: 200 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
Author InformationWalter E. Riedel is a German-Canadian translator and linguist with a focus on German-Canadian literature.
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