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New Canadian Library

New Canadian Library: The Ross-McClelland Years, 1952-1978

  • Book Info
    New Canadian Library
    Book Description:

    To place the New Canadian Library in its proper historical context, Friskney examines the simultaneous development of Canadian literary studies as a legitimate area of research and teaching in academe and acknowledges the NCL as a milestone in Canadian publishing history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8466-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    ‘Psst! ... Wanna Read a Canadian Book?’ queries the trench-coated, shifty-eyed cartoon character who featured in McClelland and Stewart’s paperback promotion of 1972. Arrayed along the lining of his coat, as if they are the veriest of contraband, are five titles in the Toronto book publishing firm’s venerable series, the New Canadian Library (NCL).

    Launched on 17 January 1958, the NCL was a quality paperback series of literary reprints that gathered together works either written by Canadians or set in Canada and first issued between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. The series had two principal architects: English professor Malcolm Ross...

  7. Part One: The Historical Narrative

    • 1 Malcolm Ross, Jack McClelland, and the Launch of the NCL
      (pp. 21-43)

      By the early 1950s, neither the notion of a Canadian reprint series nor the pocket-book paperback represented new ideas. Malcolm Ross’s innovation resided in bringing the two concepts together, and then successfully selling his idea to Jack McClelland, the publisher whose legendary reputation for taking risks on Canadian authors and their manuscripts was then still in its formative stages. When first presented with the university professor’s proposal, McClelland’s reaction was the same as that of John Gray at Macmillan of Canada: ‘We’d lose our shirts!’ The five years that stretched between Ross broaching his idea with McClelland and the appearance...

    • 2 Establishing a Canadian Literary Reprint Series, 1958–1967
      (pp. 44-66)

      When Malcolm Ross and Jack McClelland began discussing title possibilities again in January 1958, the long-term future of the New Canadian Library was still a matter of conjecture. However, preparatory work for the series had left McClelland sufficiently intrigued about paperback publishing that he had begun to wonder about its general potential for a Canadian publisher. Through the initial years of the NCL’s existence, McClelland seriously contemplated the idea of a multifaceted paperback program whose corporate identity would be New Canadian Library. This concept eventually splintered into a number of separate M&S paperback initiatives, an outcome that allowed the NCL...

    • 3 Establishment and Its Discontents, 1968–1978
      (pp. 67-88)

      During its second decade, the New Canadian Library took shape in a dynamic cultural context as a new generation of writers, publishers, book reviewers, and literary critics began to make its contribution to the creation, nurture, dissemination, and study of Canadian literature. By 1967, the year of Canada’s centennial, Canadian literary studies had a firm foothold in the country’s universities. Over the next ten years, that position was consolidated. Between 1967 and 1974, the proportion of anglophone universities offering at least one undergraduate course dedicated to Canadian literature increased from about 60 per cent to 100 percent.¹ Venues in which...

  8. Part Two: Editorial Practices and the Selective Tradition

    • 4 Selection, Rejection, and Compromise
      (pp. 91-121)

      In the act of accepting or rejecting manuscripts submitted to them for publication, or by commissioning those that do not yet exist, book publishers play a powerful role in the cultural productions of society. Indeed, the process of selection that is integral to their occupation has given rise to the term ‘gatekeeper’ to describe their cultural function.¹ The editorial interests of individual book publishers differ, however, and that circumstance makes an impact on the types of material they usher into print. Consult any guide designed for aspiring authors, and one basic point will always be reiterated: before submitting a manuscript...

    • 5 On the Matter of the Source Text
      (pp. 122-151)

      In 1968, American textual critic Fredson Bowers drew attention to the difference between practical and scholarly editions. ‘The best modern practical editions,’ he explained, ‘present to a broad audience as sound a text ... as is consistent with information that may be procurable through normal scholarly channels and thus without more special research than is economically feasible.’ A definitive edition, on the other hand, represents ‘a unique creation of scholarship in which, ideally, the profit motive does not enter, at least as a governing consideration affecting principle and method.’ Indeed, definitive (or scholarly) editions often require such extensive research that...

    • 6 Canonical Conundrums
      (pp. 152-184)

      Canadian literature had a small curricular presence in Canada’s universities as early as the 1920s, when post-war nationalism encouraged the creation of half or full courses in the topic at Dalhousie, Mount Allison, Queen’s, Western, and Manitoba. Far more common in the interwar period were courses that paired Canadian with American literature. Since Canadian works usually represented a much smaller part of the material covered, these courses have been viewed as evidence of regression in the curricular claims of Canadian literature after 1930. In Sarah King’s estimation, however, they were a strategic innovation on the part of advocates of the...

  9. Appendix A: New Canadian Library Titles, 1958–1978
    (pp. 186-195)
  10. Appendix B: Copies of NCL Titles Sold Annually, 1958–1979
    (pp. 196-204)
  11. Appendix C: Titles Proposed but Not Included in the NCL to 1978
    (pp. 205-218)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 219-252)
  13. Selected Bibligraphy
    (pp. 253-270)
  14. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 271-272)
  15. Index
    (pp. 273-284)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)