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Edited by Shirley Neuman and Smaro Kamboureli.
Edmonton, AB: Newest Press, co-published with Longspoon Press, 1987.
420pp., paper, $19.95.
ISBN 0-920897-12-6. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Canadian literature-Women authors-History and criticism.
Feminist literary criticism-Canada.

Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by Donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

The promotional material that accompanies A Mazing Space leaves no doubt about what this massive book is all about: feminist criticism.

"A Mazing Space," states the promo, "represents the most extensive and indepth collection of feminist criticism about Canadian women writers to date .... No serious student of feminist literature can afford to be without this valuable collection!" What's clear here are two facts. First, this is an important work, and, second, it is a work primarily for the student of literature, certainly not for the average reader, not even the average reader of feminist literature. Indeed, A Mazing Space reads and feels like a textbook. The book doesn't just include examples of traditional literary essays examining form and style; there are also autobiography, diaries and what the promo calls "writing womanly."

It's Sarah Murphy's womanly writing that opens the collection. "Putting the Great Mother together again or how the cunt lost its tongue" is a tribute to powerful images and passionate exploration that remain with the reader throughout A Mazing Space, especially when that space becomes riddled with overly academic, weighty, and frankly dense writing. At these times memories of Sarah Murphy sustain. Whether constricted by academic bafflegab or floating easily on the wings of imagination, A Mazing Space is a fabulous and fundamental collection of criticism and thought about a type of writing that all too often gets ignored by publishing houses, writers and readers - womanly writing.

A Mazing Space is tremendously important.

Donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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