Buried Astrolabe

Buried Astrolabe: Canadian Dramatic Imagination and Western Tradition

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 488
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Buried Astrolabe
    Book Description:

    Craig Walker devotes the main body of his work to critical readings of James Reaney, Michael Cook, Sharon Pollock, Michel Tremblay, George F. Walker, and Judith Thompson, respecting the distinctive elements of the writer's voice while helping the reader appreciate the cultural context that informs each play. He analyses the poetics or mythological underpinning of the works and investigates the cultural significance of the tropes that typify their works. The Buried Astrolabe stakes the claim of Canadian playwrights to be considered among the most important in the contemporary world.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6859-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Prologue: Desperate Wilderness
    (pp. 3-20)

    In August 1867, Just over a month after the confederation of Canada, fourteen-year-old boy named Edward Lee was helping his father to clear a farm lot abutting the Green Lake marshes near Renfrew, Ontario, when he turned up a piece of moss to reveal a circular metal object about six inches across. Upon investigation, the object turned to be an astrolabe, an instrument used to navigate by the stars, stamped with the date 1603. The lot was located amidst a series of streams and lakes connected to the Ottawa River, so historians surmised that this was an astrolabe Samuel de...

  6. 1 James Reaney: Metamorphic Masques
    (pp. 21-81)

    What surely strikes most of us first about James Reaney’s work is its paradoxical combination of sophistication and naïveté. Among Canadian writers Reaney is one of the most self-conscious craftsmen, bringing a staggering level of erudition to his work, though always insisting on childlike simplicity in its theatrical execution. Gerald Parker’s 1991 of Reaney’s theatre is aptly namedHow To Play.Juxtaposition complexity and triviality is one of the hallmarks of modernism, yet are some who find Reaney’s particular variant off-putting rather engaging. Louis Dudek, for example, complained in 1974 that in contrast to the moderns, Reaney follows William Blake’s...

  7. 2 Michael Cook: Elegy, Allegory, and Eschatology
    (pp. 82-134)

    In Paris during the autumn of 1896 William Butler Yeats was introduced to a young Irishman, John Millington Synge. Yeats seldom missed an opportunity to promote Irish nationalism, and he quickly seized on this one, as he relates: “He told me he had learned Irish at Trinity College, so I urged him to go to the Aran Islands and find a life had never been expressed in literature, instead of a life where all been expressed. I did not divine his genius, but I felt he needed something to take him out of his morbidity and melancholy” (Autobiographies,343). The...

  8. 3 Sharon Pollock: Besieged Memory
    (pp. 135-200)

    Speaking at a 1991 conference, “Voices of Authority,” Sharon Pollock declared, “I have trouble with the word ‘authority.’” Indeed, she added, “I have trouble with authority” (cited in Zimmerman,Playwriting, 93). The uneasy relation of the author to authority is by no means a recent phenomenon. Perhaps the most notorious early case is that of Geoffrey Chaucer, who, in an attempt to establish “auctoritee” forTroilus and Criseyde,fabricated an imaginary classical source called Lollius (Chaucer, 810—12). Of course, Chaucer had to deal with age that maintained an all but adamantine faith in authority; so, having no adequate historical...

  9. 4 Michel Tremblay: Existential Mythopoeia
    (pp. 201-263)

    InThérèse et Pierrette à l’école des Saints-Anges(1980), the second novel of Michel Tremblay’s Chroniques du plateau Mont-Royal series, there is a passage in whichDr Sanregret, the attending physician of the rue Fabre, is watching the annual Saints-Anges pageant Ti-Lou, an infamous, retired Ottawa courtesan. Held on the school’s front staircase, this“reposoir”features a huge cast of schoolgirls, boy scouts, and others, lavishly costumed and arranged various tableaux and processions, with one lucky little girl starring as the Blessed Virgin. All this is intended to demonstrate publicly the parish’s piety and unabashed love of God, but Dr...

  10. 5 George F. Walker: Postmodern City Comedy
    (pp. 264-354)

    In Ivan Turgenev’s 1862 novelFathers and Sons,Arkady Nikolayevich Kirsanov, having recently graduated from university in St Petersburg, returns home to the small country estate of his father, Nikolai, bringing with him a new friend, Yevgeny Vassilovich Bazarov. Arkady’s eyes have been opened to a whole new aspect of the world while he has been away, and one of the chief instigators of these first steps from innocence to experience has been Bazarov, a nihilist who refuses to respect any established moral system or social station whatsoever. Turgenev’s novel depicts the clash of the new ideas of these young...

  11. 6 Judith Thampson: Social Psychomachia
    (pp. 355-412)

    When, in 1990, Judith Thompson described herself as “a devoted Freudian in some ways” (Fair,99) some of her admirers may have been disconcerted. By then the great man’s reputation was already manifestly in decline. A series of increasingly biting attacks were being made by writers such as Adolf Grünbaum, Jeffrey Masson, Frederick Crews, even Gloria Steinem, that represented the father of psychoanalysis patriarchal, sexist, unscientific, capricious, irrational, egotistical, deluded, paranoid, dishonest, sexually perverted, and just plain wrong. Many people apparently felt that the time had come simply to junk Freud and his ideas altogether.

    To be sure, there has...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 413-432)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 433-454)
  14. Index
    (pp. 455-467)