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Edited by Robert Kroetsch and Reingard M. Nischik. Edmonton, NeWest Press, c1985. 303pp, paper, ISBN 0-920316-79-4 (cloth) $2155, 0-920316-77-8 (paper) $11.95. (Western Canadian Literary Documents series #6). CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

A growing interest in Canadian literature has been shown in the last decade by European academics. The leaders in this field have been Italian, German, and French professors, for whom Canada stands as a new territory open for cultivation. The British are some distance behind. These facts are evident in the relative weight of the bibliographies, organized on national lines, which are appended to this collection, and the judgment is confirmed in an afterword by Professor Reingard Nischik, one of the editors, and evidently a driving force in the book's compilation. The European approach, suggests Nischik, is less "thematic" than literary criticism written in Canada. Generally speaking, the continental Europeans look to Canadian literature in English of the generation that has come into prominence in the sixties and after: Atwood, Munro, Findley, Laurence, Hodgins, Gallant, Kroetsch, and Wiebe. The approaches are in fact various and from the babble of these many foreign minds (all seventeen essays are written in English) are to be heard emerging the reassuring over-voice of the great Canadian themes: identity, its discovery or making, insider-outsider opposition, realism versus fantasy, and so on. The book therefore presents the familiar in unfamiliar clothes. The Canadian student of literature will find the challenge bracing. Some essays are built on concepts of the European Formalist school and are theoretic and obscure; others would prove accessible to high school students involved in Canadian studies in literature. Walter Pache's essay on Canadian Post-Modernism has a literary and political reach and would probably interest the general student.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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