He was ordained to the ministry of the United Church of Canada and studied at Oxford before returning to UofT. I remember seeing an exhibition of undergraduate painting, mostly of landscapes, at a Maritime university. She died in Australia while accompanying Frye on a lecture tour. This tone is in a curious contrast to the pervading tone of Canadian economists, historians, political theorists and social scientists. But it is with human beings as with birds: the creative instinct has a great deal to do with the assertion of territorial rights. According to Frye's introduction, the essays were selected to provide a composite view of the Canadian imagination, an understanding of the human imagination's reaction to and development in response to the Canadian environment. In any case the estimates of value implied in them are expendable, as estimates of value always are.
The Lawren Harris essay was the preface to the book of his writings and paintings edited by my classmate R. It is hard to overstate my debt to Mr. Smith, and in fact it is hardly too much to say that he brought that conception into being. The students had come from all over Canada, and one was from Ghana. As a student going to the University of Toronto, I would take the train to Montreal, sitting up overnight in the coach, and looking forward to the moment in the early morning when the train came into Levis, on the south side of the St. The article on the narrative tradition resulted from a lead given me by the same book: this article was translated by Guy Sylvestre and appeared in an issue of his magazine Cants du ciel which was devoted to English Canadian poetry. I first became aware of this polarization of mood through Canadian painting, which is why I include three short pieces on painting here.
Quebec in particular has gone through an exhilarating and, for the most part, emancipating social revolution. The conclusion which I wrote for this history repeats a good many conceptions worked out earlier during the poetry reviews, but it is closely related to the rest of the book in which it first appeared, and is heavily dependent on the other contributors for data, conceptions and often phras-ing. Certainly a century after the American Civil War, the true north strong and free often looks more like a sham south weak and occupied -- sham because there has been no war with this confederacy and no deliberate occupation. There are, of course, containing imaginative forms which are common to the whole country, even if not peculiar to Canada. The former is emotionally linked to Confederation and Canadianism; the latter is more regional and more inclined to think of the country as a series of longitudinal sections.
The Bush Garden features analyses of Canadian poetry, prose fiction and painting. Lawrence may become fascinated by the great sprawling wilderness of Northern Ontario or Ungava, may move there and live with its people and become accepted as one of them, but if he paints or writes about it he will paint or write as an imaginative foreigner. The successful separatings, like that of Norway and Sweden in 1905, took place before the rise of these movements. The question of identity is primarily a cultural and imaginative question, and there is always something vegetable about the imagination, something sharply limited in range. Such notions came mainly not from other critics but from poets making critical obiter dicta. Anyone brought up on the urban plain of southern Ontario or the gentle pays farmland along the south shore of the St.
The romantic and exploratory tendency was represented for me by Thomson, the Group of Seven especially Harris, Jackson and Lismer , and Emily Carr; the pastoral tendency by most of the better painters before Thomson and by David Milne later. Dudek's phrase, the great white whale of Canadian criticism. His study of Blake's poetry was a major contribution. What has just been said may seem inconsistent with some of what is said later on in this book; but the essays cover a period of thirty years, and naturally conditions in Canada itself have changed a good deal in that time. The effects of this are clear in the curiously abortive cultural developments of Canada, as is said later in this book.
Frye found in it a system of metaphor derived from Paradise Lost and the Bible. Similarly, separatism in the Atlantic or Prairie provinces is often based on a feeling that Ontario regards itself as an Israel or Promised Land with the outlying provinces in the role of desert wanderers: this is much the same as the attitude that Quebec separatism explicitly adopts toward the Francophone Canadians in New Brunswick or Manitoba. Thus the admiration for France, which on one occasion took the form of picketing a Cabinet Minister for saying that a French-made aeroplane was not as good as an English-made one, indicates a phase of colonialism now obsolete in the other culture. I emphasize this because I have edited the text, to save the reader the distraction of being continually referred to another book, and the editing has concealed my debts. The title of the book has been pilfered from Margaret Atwood's Journals of Susanna Moodie, a book unusually rich in suggestive phrases defining a Canadian sensibility.
In the last essay in this book I speak of the alternating rhythm in Canadian life between opposed tendencies, one romantic, exploratory and idealistic, the other reflective, observant and pastoral. Smith's Book of Canadian Poetry appeared 1943 , and my review of it in The Canadian Forum was perhaps my first critical article of any lasting importance. Born in Quebec but raised in New Brunswick, Frye studied at the University of Toronto and Victoria University. But since the rise of the great ideological revolutionary movements of our time, whether communist, fascist, imperialist, Islamic or what not, separatism has been an almost wholly destructive force. Lawrence, and the great fortress of Quebec loomed out of the bleak dawn mists. I read this book quite a long time ago as part of a course on CanLit and poetry.
By myth I meant, not an accidental characteristic of poetry which can be acquired as an ornament or through an allusion or by writing in a certain way, but the structural principle of the poem itself. American writers are, as writers, not American: they are New Englanders, Mississippians, Middle Westerners, expatriates, and the like. The collection was originally published in 1971; it was republished, with an introduction by Canadian postmodern theorist , in 1995. Perhaps that is part of the real function of the imagination in every community, and of the poets who articulate that imagination. The obliterated environment produces an imaginative dystrophy that one sees all over the world, most dramatically perhaps in architecture and town planning as it is ironically called , but in the other arts as well.
There were also a good many Maritime French families whose native language was English, and so had the same cultural dislocation in reverse. At the time that I reviewed Mr. The Ghana student had imaginative qualities that the Canadians did not have, but they had something that he did not have, and it puzzled me to place it. I knew that much of the panorama was created by a modern railway hotel, but distance and fog lent enchantment even to that. The tribute to Milne appeared in the second issue of Here and Now, accompanied by illustrations which the imaginative reader should have little difficulty in reconstructing. What follows is a retrospective collection of some of my writings on Canadian culture, mainly literature, extending over a period of nearly thirty years.
What is resented in Canada about annexation to the United States is not annexation itself, but the feeling that Canada would disappear into a larger entity without having anything of any real distinctiveness to contribute to that entity: that, in short, if the United States did annex Canada it would notice nothing except an increase in natural resources. These are aspects of the tension of unity and identity already mentioned. When I had got started on this, in 1950, during a year I had off on a Guggenheim Fellowship, I was asked by my colleague J. Nobody of any intelligence has any business being loyal to an ideal of uniformity: what one owes one's loyalty to is an ideal of unity, and a distrust of such a loyalty is rooted in a distrust of life itself. Every part of Canada has strong separatist feelings: there is a separatism of the Pacific Coast, of the Prairies, of the Maritimes, of Newfoundland, as well as of Quebec. Whenever the east-west context of the Canadian out-look begins to weaken, separatism, which is always there, emerges as a political force.