Five-Part Invention

Five-Part Invention: A History of Literary History in Canada

E.D. BLODGETT
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442674950
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  • Book Info
    Five-Part Invention
    Book Description:

    Blodgett suggests that 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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7495-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    In Canada, at least, the study of history no longer carries the cachet it once did, especially in nineteenth-century Europe. Such texts as Francis Fukuyama’sThe End of History and the Last Man(1992) are perhaps an earnest of what we may expect.² Literary history is in some ways even more moribund, which does not mean that it does not continue to be written. One wonders, however, if anyone does more than consult such histories, and whether the interests of those who consult them are not better served through reference works. Why, then, a history of literary history in Canada,...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Writing Borders, 1874–1920
    (pp. 23-53)

    Early histories of the literatures of Canada would appear to be of interest primarily to scholars, not to speak of the idle and curious. They are read from a vantage that makes them appear limited because of the insufficiency of texts and quaint because of the character of their judgments. Like histories in general that are regional and chronologically closed, they seem to be substantively outdated, offering little more than ancillary assistance in the critical study of literature and a measure of contemporary reception. In such a context, the comment made by Charles ab der Halden, a Belgian historian of...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Nation as Discourse, 1924–1946
    (pp. 54-93)

    The two decades that we are about to consider, which embrace the period from the end of one world war to the other, constitute a period in which a sense of national consciousness was given new energy in English Canada while in Quebec, the traditional values that Camille Roy had been supporting since the turn of the century were more firmly reinforced. Needless to say, French Canada did not feel itself particularly called upon to support what it construed as British imperialism during the First World War, preferring to hold fast to regional concerns. It did not, therefore, participate in...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Search for Agency, 1948–1965
    (pp. 94-126)

    The final years of the 1940s were marked by a series of events whose bearing upon the francophone and anglophone literatures were direct and irrevocable. The most decisive were, first, as we have already seen, the publication of Paul-Émile Borduas’sRefus globalin 1948. It proclaimed the birth of new era of total freedom, attacking both the forces of capitalism and the repressive character of contemporary Quebec society. It was immediately met with denunciation. In the following year, the Johns Manville plant was shut down by a strike at Asbestos. It was a strike of such symbolic magnitude that it...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Notre Maître le Passé, 1967–1969
    (pp. 127-150)

    The changes that Quebec brought about in the 1960s are in many respects too complex to be given rapid summary here.² Despite the fact that it has been aptly named the Quiet Revolution, it was not an untroubled period of reform initiated by the provincial liberals. Indeed, some efforts in the latter part of the decade were made to arrest it, notably in the election of Daniel Johnson and the Union Nationale, the party of Maurice Duplessis. Quebec showed itself divided between one extreme represented by Johnson’s party and the other of the Rassemblement pour 1’indépendance nationale. The province had...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Literary History as Heilsgeschichte, 1973–1983
    (pp. 151-180)

    The burden and meaning of freedom in Canada is, at the very least, ambiguous. Quebec’s sovereignty movement desires freedom from English Canada, and it relies upon a close reading of history to demonstrate why knowledge of history is necessary for a proper understanding of its literature. English Canada, in contrast, appears, with few exceptions, bent upon freedom from history itself, which may be part, as I have argued, of its liberal, protestant heritage. Neither of these inclinations was particularly new in the early years of the 1970s, but they were sharply drawn into focus by the enforcement of the War...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Autonomy, Literature, and the National, 1991–
    (pp. 181-206)

    As we have had frequent occasion to remark, literary histories carry the mark of their period of gestation with them. The ambitious multivolumeLa Vie littéraire au Québec(1991–), under the general editorship of Maurice Lemire, and since Volume 3 co-edited with Denis Saint-Jacques, not only represents fully the developments in literary theory that took place in the 1980s in North America, Europe, and Israel, but also in many respects it may be considered a summa of the tendencies of most literary histories of Quebec. Because the first volume appeared some four years after the defeat of the Meech...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Question of Alterity: Histories of Their Own, 1968–1993
    (pp. 207-238)

    It is impossible to construct a notion of Canadian culture without bearing in mind that it is not two, but many, cultures. Histories of its literatures are dominated, however, by the notion that there are two literatures, and in practice these histories are written as if there were only one literature and perhaps another. While a national policy on biculturalism was inevitable if the Canadian Federation was to remain viable, it was also inevitable that, once cultural claims had been asserted, to preserve the dominant cultures as exclusive in a pluralistic society would be hypocritical at the very least. Because...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Canada as Alterity: The View from Europe, 1895–1961
    (pp. 239-262)

    The literary histories of anglophone and francophone Canada as they are prepared primarily for European audiences constitute a kind of epiphany of what we have observed already. As epiphanies, they revisit the same sites from the late nineteenth century until the present day. The difference lies in the point of view adopted: they are more assiduous, at least in some instances, in situating texts in historical contexts that are considered unknown by their respective readers, and French readers are often permitted to see a number of parallels in historical development between Quebec and other former francophone colonies and regions, such...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Canada by Canadians for Europeans, 1974–1989
    (pp. 263-289)

    The four histories considered in this chapter, while written by Canadians, were contracted for series that are designed for readers outside Canada. Significantly, the two anglophone histories are those most widely in use as narrative histories, and one of them can only be acquired from its English publisher, thus inhibiting its use in Canada. Both these histories and that of Laurent Mailhot were also written at times when the histories of Grandpré and Klinck would have been in general use, which may have been the reason why they were published by foreign publishers. Alternatively, they may all have suited the...

  14. Afterthoughts, Models, Possibilities
    (pp. 290-304)

    I have suggested in my introduction that the genre of literary history may be understood as akin to the German tradition of theBildungsroman. Texts familiar to most readers would be Thomas Mann’sThe Magic Mountain(1914) and, possibly, Hermann Hesse’sThe Glass Bead Game(1943). I made this suggestion for a number of reasons. First, it relates literary history to a great international genre. Furthermore, it relates literary history to a genre of some consequence, which is noted for the rare, indeed, rarified depths in its searching examinations of certain characters. Finally, I wanted to emphasize the condition of...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 305-342)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 343-358)
  17. Index
    (pp. 359-371)