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Edited by Shirley Neuman. Edmonton. NeWest Press, c1985. 362pp. paper. ISBN 0-9203K>-85-9 (paper) $9.95. (NeWest Literary Document series #7) CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Ruth Cosstick

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

It was in a wartime internment camp that a youthful Austrian refugee not only resolved to stay in Canada, but also to become a writer; and not only a writer, but a writer in the English language. Taking Joseph Conrad as his mentor, Heinrich Kreisel spent his eighteen months internment avidly reading English literature, and immediately upon his release to Toronto, set about completing his education. Scholarships and graduate studies followed. Part of his indoctrination as a Canadian was a search for a Canadian literature. In 1942,"Canadian" was a two-week supplement to a course on American literature. However Kreisel's first term paper at the University of Toronto was on a Canadian poet whose background was similar to his own. A.M. Klein's Hath Not a Jew had just been published and was seminal to Kreisel's development as a writer. It was Klein who showed him how one could use material that came from European and Jewish experience. Heinrich, now Henry, felt that experience was like a tree; new roots can be put down, but the original roots need not be discarded.

Another Country is partly comprised of the journal Kreisel kept during his internment, which, when published in 1974, proved to be invaluable in a study of the psychological effect of exile and internment on the Austrian and German refugees, fleeing from the Nazis, who were interned as British "enemy aliens." Along with the diary are poems and short stories written during this confinement that demonstrate the early attempts of an aspiring writer. Essays and letters by and about Henry Kreisel follow, as well as two sensitive interviews.

From these interviews emerge the picture of a gentle, dedicated man whose growth as a Canadian academic and writer allowed him to overcome his feelings of alienation by becoming part of a larger society. From professor of english at the University of Alberta Kreisel rose to be head of the department, and later Vice-President (Academic) of the university, he served on innumerable provincial and national organizations. These commitments admittedly restricted his literary output, but Kreisel knew that a writer is always using his basic experiences in a number of ways.

Kreisel used his insight of the European-born Canadian by setting his two novels., The Rich Man McClelland, (1948) and The Betrayal McClelland, (1964) in Edmonton and Vienna. In a perceptive conversation with Professor Mervin Butovsky of Concordia University, Kreisel explains how in The Betrayal he is able to contrast Canadian innocence of evil with the European knowledge of human tragedy.

He Who Sells His Shadow is a radio play in which Kreisel has his protagonist say that "a man's shadow is like his country. He who rejects his country or who is driven from it cannot easily find another. And he cannot purchase one with all the money in the world." Another Country is a testament to a man who has devoted his life to turning negative experiences into positive results, for himself, and most certainly for his adopted country. The volume is indexed and has a complete bibliography of Kreisel's writings. Highly recommended for intermediate and senior students.

Ruth Cosstick, Ottawa, Ont.
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