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The Montreal Forties

The Montreal Forties: Modernist Poetry in Transition

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 391
  • Book Info
    The Montreal Forties
    Book Description:

    During WWII, a number of Canadian poets converged on Montreal and rewrote the story of modern English-Canadian poetry. The book discusses the four major English-Canadian poets to emerge in the 40s; PK Page, AM Klein, Irving Layton and Louis Dudek.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8172-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Reading the Forties Poets
    (pp. 3-40)

    During the latter half of the Second World War, a group of young and unknown Canadian poets converged on Montreal and, in a few short years of little-magazine and small-press publication, rewrote the story of modern English-Canadian poetry. Patrick Anderson, from England by way of Columbia University in New York; A.M. Klein, Louis Dudek, and Irving Layton, from Montreal; P.K. Page, from Alberta via New Brunswick; and John Sutherland, from New Brunswick via Kingston and Queenʹs University: these poets were among the periodʹs fascinating literary figures. Banding together in various personal and professional relations, they generated one of the most...

  5. 1 Imagist Twilight: Pageʹs Early Poetry
    (pp. 41-105)

    The status of ʹAfter Rainʹ in P.K. Pageʹsoeuvrehas something of the inevitable about it. Written in 1954,¹ on the brink of her prolonged middle silence, Pageʹs personalsummais, on the one hand, an engaging self-criticism whose contexts are literary-historical, aestheticist, feminist, religious, and psychological, while, on the other hand, exemplifying with careful irony the very poetics for which the poet and persona – in this case largely overlapping voices – chide themselves. It engages the criticism and reviews the poet had until that time received; it evokes the aesthetic skirmishes betweenPreviewandFirst Statement, in which...

  6. 2 The Poem in the Mind: The Integritas of Klein in the Forties
    (pp. 106-173)

    Pageʹs poetics reflect a larger effort that was definitive of the forties experience: the search for sound new bases for collectivity, identity, and wholeness, not only on the level of idiosyncratic poetic style, but on that of (what one might call) mental style as well. The mannerist impersonality on which her poetry of the period insists cannot properly be conceptualized without recourse, as we have seen, to metaphors whose resonance lies in the psychological dimension. An ʹimpersonalʹ poem will suppress content that would alert the reader to a particular poet whose private experience made her say these things in verse;...

  7. 3 Image and Ego: Laytonʹs Lyric Progress
    (pp. 174-235)

    Only in retrospect does A.M. Kleinʹs dispersal into silence in 1953 seem exemplary of a significant end to the Canadian forties. Several years passed before the permanence of his reclusion became apparent to many beyond his intimate circle, and few who knew of the conflict within the forty-four-year-old can have imagined how complete and final his severance from the written word was to be. Little has been documented of the immediate reaction of his friend and earlier acolyte Irving Layton, no doubt in part because the collapse was not public enough to warrant much comment in the latterʹs correspondence: nevertheless,...

  8. 4 Forties Continuations: Dudekʹs Long Poems and the Period Style
    (pp. 236-307)

    At the historical heart of the Canadian 1940s, but in England, Alex Comfort penned these polemic remarks forArt and Social Responsibility: Lectures on the Ideology of Romanticism(1946): ʹThe romantic recognises a perpetual struggle upon two levels, the fight against Death which I have described, and the struggle against those men and institutions who ally themselves with Death against humanity, the struggle against barbarism.ʹ¹ Few of the Canadian poets of that decade would identify so unambiguously as had Comfort with Romantic tradition, although, as we have seen, Irving Layton admitted in 1943 the exemplary force of an emergent neo-Romanticism,...

  9. Conclusion: The Generation of the Forties
    (pp. 308-320)

    When I reject little-magazine-based narratives of Montreal poetry in the 1940s, I am left with the problem ofintegritas: how to present a strong and whole image of four major Canadian poets without suppressing significant differences among them. If anything, I have erred on the side of too much unity, although my four chaptersʹ relative avoidance of narration in literary-historical time may lead some to disagree. It may be that I have asked the same Imagist abilities of my readers as the poets I have considered asked of theirs. If that is so, I have now a last opportunity to...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 321-356)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 357-372)
  12. Sources and Permissions
    (pp. 373-374)
  13. Index
    (pp. 375-381)