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Hallvard Dahlie
Toronto, ECW Press, 1993. 79pp, pap er,
$14.95, ISBN 1-55022-097-7. CIP

Subject Heading:
Grove, Frederick Philip, 1879-1948. Settlers of the marsh.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Joanne Peters

Volume 22 Number 3
1994 May/June

With  Isolation and Commitment: Frederick Philip Groves Settlers of the Marsh and   Moral Predicament: Morley Callaghan's More Joy in Heaven, ECW shifts the focus of its "Canadian Fiction Studies" series to works published in the earlier decades of the twentieth century. In many ways,  SettIers of the Marsh marked a distinct change in the sensibilities of Canadian literature of the early years of this century.

Frederick Philip Grove was himself an interesting character and Hallvard Dahlie's commentary on the work's importance and its critical reception, and his reading of the novel itself all raise some interesting questions about the book's author. However, the strength of  Isolation and Commitment lies in the commentary on the text itself, and Dahlie combines close textual analysis with some interesting alternative readings.

The section on the critical reception faced by  S ettlers of the Marsh is particularly interesting for its discussion of the controversy that attended the book's publication. Even for its time, there is little in Settlers that could be considered sexually graphic, and Dahlie points out that "today readers are often incredulous when directed to the passages that caused concern." However, the high school and college students who are frequently the readers of the novel will undoubtedly find this bit of literary history of interest, along with some of the rather shady details of Grove's life.

Like it's predecessors in the "Canadian Fiction Studies" series,  Isolation and Commitmemt does what it is intended to do: it presents an in-depth but approachable critical study of a Canadian novel for students at senior secondary and early post-secondary levels. Teachers can also benefit from yet another perspective on frequently taught texts, and the comprehensive citation lists at the end of each volume offer direction for further reading.

A worthwhile addition to senior high library and professional collections.

Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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