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Keepers of the Code

Keepers of the Code: English-Canadian Literary Anthologies and the Representation of the Nation

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    Keepers of the Code
    Book Description:

    Robert Lecker explores the ways in which these anthologies contributed to the formation of a Canadian literary canon, the extent to which this canon was tied to an ideal of English-Canadian nationalism, and the material conditions accounting for the anthologies' production.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6346-6
    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
    (pp. 3-21)

    This is the first study of English-Canadian literature anthologies. While it discusses almost two hundred works published from 1837 to the present, its central focus is on those collections that define themselves as pan-Canadian in their perspective – books that are not restricted to a particular region, movement, age group, or period. I have strayed from this focus in the case of a few anthologies that have had a special historical impact, even though their subject matter might not be national in scope. I am interested in discovering how these anthologies represent the nation through its literature and in determining what...

  5. Chapter One Nineteenth-Century Anthologies and the Making of Canadian Literature, 1837–1900
    (pp. 22-70)

    The first anthology of Canadian literature was born in troubled times.The Canadian Forget Me Not for MDCCCXXXVIIwas published in January of that year (1837). Its editor, John Simpson, had arrived in Canada two years earlier, after leaving his business as a linen draper in London and moving to Niagara, Upper Canada, where he established himself as a bookseller, printer, editor, and publisher of theNiagara Chronicle(Cornell). Simpson must have been a brave man, or a man open to change. He gave up his business in England and emigrated to Canada just a year after a devastating cholera...

  6. Chapter Two Representations of Nation: Watson and Pierce’s Our Canadian Literature, 1900–1922
    (pp. 71-106)

    Although several anthologies of Canadian poetry appeared in the early twentieth century, no substantial challenge to the form emerged until 1922 , with the publication of Albert Durrant Watson and Lorne Pierce’sOur Canadian Literature: Representative Prose and Verse. While this chapter focuses mainly on that collection, it is useful to position it in relation to other anthologies of English-Canadian literature published between 1900 and 1922, each of which furthered the unproblematized discourses of nationalism and imperialism that characterized earlier works (with the exception of Wetherell’s stark departure from that norm). Anthologists in this period chose to ignore many of...

  7. Chapter Three Anthologies between the Wars, 1922–1943
    (pp. 107-165)

    Watson and Pierce’sOur Canadian Literaturereflects an editorial perspective rooted in conceptions of nation, empire, and identity that predate the war. Like their predecessors, Watson and Pierce complained about the ‘rarity’ of ‘artistic appreciation’ in ‘new lands’ such as Canada and about how it was ‘the physical effort of conquering nature’ (8) that explained this kind of aesthetic neglect. They could still point to the ‘fine imperial quality’ (9) of Canadian literature and trace the development of Canadian poetry without ever mentioning the global and domestic conflicts that had transformed the country over the previous eight years. By 1920,...

  8. Chapter Four From The Book of Canadian Poetry to New Wave Canada, 1943–1966
    (pp. 166-213)

    A.J.M. Smith’sThe Book of Canadian Poetryhas long held canonical status in the repertoire of Canadian anthologies. Since its publication by the University of Chicago Press in 1943, the anthology has prompted a series of responses and counter-responses that define the tone of postwar discussions of Canadian poetry; the values promoted in Smith’s anthology affected the development of fiction as well. We can trace the response to Smith’s collection through several documents appearing in the years immediately following the anthology’s publication, but its impact extends right into the 1990s, and perhaps beyond, mainly because the central influence of the...

  9. Chapter Five Nation Making, Nation Breaking, 1967–1982
    (pp. 214-266)

    While Raymond Souster was reading the proofs ofNew Wave Canada, schools all over the country were encouraging students to come up with different ways of celebrating the approaching centennial. Souster’s ‘explosion’ had not yet reached those students, nor had it affected the style of Bobby Gimby, the man who wrote ‘Ca-na-da,’ or ‘The Centennial Song,’ which was published in French and English in 1967. For those who were in high school at the time, entranced with Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, the opening lines of Gimby’s song are hard to forget:


    (One little two little three Canadians)


  10. Chapter Six Solidifying the Canadian Canon, 1982–1996
    (pp. 267-304)

    With a combined weight of just over two kilograms and containing 1314 pages, the dual volumes of Russell Brown and Donna Bennett’sAn Anthology of Canadian Literature in Englishcompose the heaviest anthology of Canadian literature ever produced. The first volume was published in 1982; the second appeared a year later. The sheer size of this collection provides ample evidence of how commercially viable the anthologizing of Canadian literature had become. It also points to the solidification of a Canadian literary canon that was established in the years following the 1978 Calgary Conference on the Canadian Novel. While some of...

  11. Chapter Seven Keeping the Code, 1996–2010
    (pp. 305-342)

    To what extent did Canadian anthologists after Kamboureli acknowledge or represent the collapse of what she calls the nation’s ‘imaginary cohesiveness’? Although there were dozens of specialized anthologies on specific themes published between 1996 and 2008, collections devoted to poetry and fiction from the entire country were scarce. Few publishers were willing to take the risk of investing in such anthologies, and the diversity of teaching interests among instructors meant it was much harder to make selections that would appeal to a broad enough cross section of teachers to guarantee sufficient sales to offset the huge cost of producing these...

  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 343-366)
  13. Credits
    (pp. 367-368)
  14. Index
    (pp. 369-388)