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Edited by Carrie MacMillan. Sackville, Centre for Canadian Studies, Mount Allison University and Nimbus Publishing, c1984. 129pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-920852-35-1. CIP. Distributed by Nimbus Publishing.

Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

This volume of essays arose out of a symposium sponsored by the Centre for Canadian studies at Mount Allison University in 1982. It is useful, as such collected papers from symposia are, at their best, for keeping up to date with developments in the field. This collection, aimed at a scholarly audience, keeps us current with scholarly discussion of the poetry and prose of Charles G.D. Roberts, with much useful cross reference in the papers to recently published work and to work in progress. There are papers on the poetry, novels, and animal fiction; an article on the state of Roberts bibliography; one on the critical reception of his work during his lifetime; and a note on aspects of his life and letters.

The volume opens with a useful paper on the state of Roberts bibliography. Donald Conway begins his discussion with a run down of the extent, nature, and location of resources for the study of Roberts's life and work, then, following a brief discussion of the inadequacy of current bibliographies and checklists, demonstrates the problems in compiling a definitive bibliography with a look at the publication history of several of Roberts's collections of prose and poetry. Roberts's poetry receives greatest emphasis in this collection, D.M.R. Bentley's paper on the Tantramar poems opens the discussion. David Jackel, in his paper on "The National Voice in Roberts' Poetry," beg-gins an analysis of nationalism in his poetry that is continued in W.J. Keith's look at Roberts's place in poetic tradition, and at the literary influences distinguishable in his poetry. The section on the poetry is rounded off with a paper by Graham Adams arising from his edition of the collected poems of Roberts, a project in progress at the time of the symposium.

The prose receives less attention. Joseph Gold's paper on the animal stories stresses that these were not intended as children's stories, but are, in fact, "subversive" fiction, enabling Victorian adult readers to "get in touch with parts of themselves forbidden by polite and civilized society."

In the second contribution on Roberts's prose, John Moss, acknowledging that the novels are second rate, uses post-structuralist critical method to suggest some reasons for this failure. The collection concludes with James Doyle's article examining Roberts's reception in the United States in his lifetime, where the nationalist discussion in earlier papers is picked up. The last say is had by Fred Cogswell in a very readable biographical article.

In sum, this is a well-rounded collection with lively cross reference and discussion, and contributions from leading scholars of Canadian literature. With few critical monographs devoted to Roberts's work the collection will be welcome.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
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