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Literary Celebrity in Canada

Literary Celebrity in Canada

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 200
  • Book Info
    Literary Celebrity in Canada
    Book Description:

    Literary Celebrity in Canadaexplores that space, drawing on current theories of celebrity and questioning their tendency to view fame as an empty phenomenon.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8451-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Literary Celebrity?
    (pp. 3-31)

    Authors have, in one sense, never been more visible in Canada than they have in recent decades. Literary festivals and readings attract growing numbers of listeners, large book chains such as Chapters and Indigo sponsor author appearances, and community reading clubs have become so successful that publishers often gear texts for their use, offering club-friendly ‘questions for further discussion’ at the end of chosen works. But in another sense, the author figure is peculiarly absent from our conception of Canadian literature. In academic circles, this is partly due to the refocusing of critical energies away from authorial intention in the...

  5. 2 Earlier Literary Stardom in Canada
    (pp. 32-98)

    Each new generation of literary stars has struggled with the perception that their stardom is somehow inauthentic or unearned, that it is a product of publicity machines, the decline of public taste, or a host of other imagined cultural ills. And yet those earlier generations of writers who supposedly provide the standard of earned, authentic literary value have themselves had to struggle with the competing claims of popularity and literary prestige, economic and symbolic capital. So, to counter the sort of notion that a follower of the Postman–Gabler school of cultural criticism would support, that current literary celebrity somehow...

  6. 3 Margaret Atwood’s ‘Uneasy Eminence’: Negotiating with the Famous
    (pp. 99-122)

    Back in 1973, quite early in her celebrated career, Margaret Atwood offered the above tongue-in-cheek description of her public persona. Jocular though it was, it offers several points of entry into the topic of her celebrity status. Most superficially, it shows, though its awareness of the resemblance a younger Atwood bore to the then-popular American diva, Barbra Streisand, a corresponding awareness of the role that physical appearance plays in her celebrity; as numerous commentators have observed, Atwood’s features have become a trademark of sorts. And it also signals the uneasy relation between Atwood’s North American and nationally specific Canadian celebrity;...

  7. 4 Michael Ondaatje and the ‘Twentieth-Century Game of Fame’
    (pp. 123-144)

    So said Michael Ondaatje, probably uncomfortably attired in one such suit, when he won the Giller Prize for Canadian fiction in 2000. Like Margaret Atwood’s metaphor about the two Margarets running around, one very publicly promoting her books and winning awards, the other unobtrusively living her private domestic life, Ondaatje’s distinction between the writer as labourer and the writer in the pressed suit is a way of putting an increasingly public writer’s life into perspective. Seven years earlier,The English Patientwon the Booker Prize for Literature, and just four years after that, Anthony Minghella’s film version of the novel...

  8. 5 ‘Arriving Late as Always’: The Literary Celebrity of Carol Shields
    (pp. 145-166)

    Both the genre of literary celebrity and its gendered exclusions were all too apparent to a young Carol (Warner) Shields in the 1940s and 1950s. After all, she was born in Oak Park, Illinois, birthplace of a literary star who attained near-Hollywood-level fame and whose star text was aggressively gendered male: Ernest Hemingway. Literary celebrity must have seemed unrealistic to young Carol Warner for a whole array of reasons. But in her seventh and, unfortunately, last decade of life, she would attain the sort of literary celebrity in Canada that would leave reviewers reaching for comparisons with celluloid stardom; when...

  9. 6 Walking the Walk: A Conclusion
    (pp. 167-178)

    From the flamboyant fabrications of Mazo de la Roche to the jealously guarded privacy of Michael Ondaatje, clearly there is no distinctive mode of Canadian literary celebrity. Still, given the tendency of celebrity studies to focus on the most contemporary of examples, it is instructive to see how many of the concerns and tensions involved in current Canadian literary celebrity have had a longer history in this country than one might suppose. Ondaatje’s privacy finds its historical counterpart in the carefully protected domestic life of Stephen Leacock, and the canny interventions of Margaret Atwood into her own celebrity representations find...

  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 179-192)
  11. Index
    (pp. 193-200)