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General editor, Reavley Gair. Fredericton, Fiddle-head Poetry Books/Goose Lane Editions, c1985, 286pp, paper, ISBN 0-86492-052-0 (cloth) $27.95, 0-86492-039-3 (paper) $14.95. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Ruth Cosstick

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

As Canadian literature comes of age, so literacy criticism must follow. Through the languages and literature of New Brunswick, a study of the cultural history of the province has been compiled by Fiddlehead Press. Prose, poetry, and drama from the eighteenth century to the present are treated in a number of well-footnoted essays. Much of this literary creativity was engendered by the universities of the province. "The most celebrated New Brunswick poet, Bliss Carman, and the most distinguished prose writer, Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, were both University of New Brunswick alumni." Robert's younger brother Theodore, was also a member of this notable nineteenth-century group. Fred Cogswell, a contemporary poet, has written on poetry before 1880, as well as the prose from World War II to the present.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on the resurgence of interest in Acadian literature, with credit given to such well-known figures as Antonine Maillet of La Sagouine and Pelagic fame, and the folk music of Edith Butler and Calixte Duguay, whose artistry transcends language.

The first five chapters consist of a rather esoteric study of the influence of the Micmac and Maliseet Indian dialects, as well as the Acadian and Francophone influence on the English language. These chapters will be of interest to a somewhat elite group of linguistic students.

For the general reader, the trip down memory lane with the Confederation poets is refreshing, while the current scene is brought nicely up to date, indicating that the foundations laid by the early writers is supporting a flourishing culture.

Excellent photographs illustrate the text and the book is well presented with an attractive border of New Brunswick violets on the cover. A brief biographical note on the contributors might have been welcome. A companion volume has been published in French. With comprehensive index and bibliography, these books make a useful reference tool and a valuable addition to Canadian criticism.

Ruth Cosstick, Ottawa, Ont.
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