Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists

Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists: Aspects of a Poetic Influence

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists
    Book Description:

    Trehearne observes that in most cases the Aesthetic influence was sustained through the entire career of the poets whose work he examines. Although later affected by the Modernists, their works continued to be shaped and distinguished by an early Aesthetic training. In the case of A.J.M. Smith, for example, his initial thematic and stylistic Aetheticism affects his mature critical pronouncements. John Glassco, who was influenced by the Aesthetic and Modernist ideas throughout his career, created a unique form of Aesthetic modern poetry.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6209-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Influence, Aestheticism, Modernism
    (pp. 3-21)

    Critics of Canadian poetry have been little urged by the conventions of their discipline to address the legacy of European Aestheticism. Most would acknowledge the degree to which the Confederation poets were influenced by the various cross-currents of Aestheticism and Decadence,¹ but a comprehensive accounting of that literary relationship has yet to appear. The influence of Aestheticism on more modern Canadian poetry has never been proposed, much less documented. Only for the prose of John Glassco has a backdrop of Decadence been consistently asserted, and then with an insufficient grasp of the Decadent literature ostensibly reflected in his canon.² Critical...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Impressionism and Modernism in Ross and Knister
    (pp. 22-70)

    Canadian Modernism, like the Anglo-American Modernism from which it derived, was heralded by a literary phenomenon that has been characterized with some degree of authority and accuracy as ʺImagism.ʺ Not even so coherent a movement as the British, which certainly had its internecine skirmishes, the Canadian derivative of Imagism was practised chiefly by two isolated and hardly recognized poets who in their prime knew nothing of one another, Raymond Knister and W.W.E. Ross. Knister, who gave up poetry altogether at the age of twenty-seven,¹ and Ross, who printed private volumes in 1930 and 1932 and then wrote quietly for over...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Aestheticism in the Canadian ʺContemporariesʺ
    (pp. 71-133)

    The line between major and minor poet has never been so obscured as in this late twentieth century of settled critical relativism, or in this difficult nation, whose most significant poets still struggle to achieve the mastery that earns world acclaim for an enduring voice in literature. The Canadian critic might seem to be faced with a painful choice: to evaluate and rank, then necessarily admit, as Raymond Knister did, that we ʺhave not produced a Keats,ʺ¹ or to suspend judgment altogether, to treat his Canadian subjects on Canadian terms, and thereby to conclude that certain poets are major, others...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR ʺBrian Tukeʺ and ʺBernard Marchʺ: The Early Decadent Scott
    (pp. 134-174)

    The generally propounded image of the poetry of F.R. Scott is one of biting satire, wry social commentary, tough-minded metaphysical speculations upon the meaning and purpose of the human species, and accurate Canadian landscapes, all of which meld and enrich one another in the canon of a thinker, a wit, and a prophet. Robin Skelton states that ʺScott, like Donne, like Carew, and like Marvell, speaks as a complete man; his passions involve his intelligence, and his intelligence gives rise to passion.ʺ¹ Thus Scott is placed with the metaphysical poets, which leads us to expect from his verse startling images...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE John Glasscoʹs Post–Decadent Verse
    (pp. 175-229)

    Recent revelations about hisMemoirs of Montparnassemake it clear that a complete critical understanding of the works of John Glassco is only now beginning to emerge. Until his death in 1981 Glassco was not closely studied; it had been sufficient to note the ʺbucolic and elegiacʺ qualities of his poetry,¹ to read hisMemoirs of Montparnasseas an inspired tongue-in-cheek romp, and to close one eye and wink with the other at the substantial amount of pornography he had acknowledged. But when Glassco died and it became generally known that he had deposited a large collection of manuscripts, typescripts,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX A.J.M. Smith: Aesthetic Master of Canadian Poetry
    (pp. 230-307)

    If the young A.J.M. Smith had leaped full-grown into Modernism as he and his critics have usually suggested, he would indeed be the most remarkable phenomenon of modern Canadian poetry: especially since Pound, Eliot, Yeats, and Stevens came at their Modernism through the back door, after having spent time writing versions of nineteenth-century poetry, and since they only discovered slowly and with labour that an enormous literary revolution was working through them. While Smithʹs dedication, craft, criticism, and personal influence certainly combined in one of the most forceful contributions to Canadian poetry yet recorded, he no more started out a...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusion: Speculations
    (pp. 308-320)

    Aestheticism, if we approximate the end of the English movement and the beginning of Canadian Modernism, say from the trial of Wilde to the creation of theFortnightly, lay dormant for some thirty years before it had a significant and pervasive influence on an entire Canadian literary generation. The need for this estimate may not be immediately clear, but I presume that the scholar who is interested in the foreign influences upon Canadian poetry will also have a general interest in the schema of Canadian artistic inheritance and will consequently be curious to know if any patterns exist by which...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 321-342)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 343-362)
  13. Index
    (pp. 363-370)