Titel: An Independent Stance
Autor/en: W. J. Keith
Mai 1991 - kartoniert - 311 Seiten
Part One of this strongly worded, informed, and wide-ranging collection examines key issues for the future of Canadian criticism. Part Two offers new readings of important works by Grove, Wilson, MacLennan, Davies, Laurence, Hood, Wiebe, Hodgins, and Atwood. As W.J. Keith argues, We still have a mission: to have our literature recognized as an essential reflection of our national life. This is what I mean by retrenchment and consolidation. Literature can survive without literary criticism but it cannot survive if it is unknown and unread. It is criticism's prime function at the present time to see that it is both known and read with that mature enjoyment which is a combination of emotional sensitivity and humane intelligence. As critics, scholars, editors, we shall not be fulfilling our responsibilities or justifying our existence if we attempt anything less.' Or as Keith modestly observes in his introduction to this collection, If this book is of any interest, it will be because Canadian literature is an important subject. Literary commentators like myself are middle-men, and should be prepared to admit the fact. If this book succeeds in helping readers to appreciate the works of Canadian writers that I discuss, and to derive increased pleasure and insight from them, it will have served its purpose. I can see no other justification for it -- or for any other work of criticism.'
On the Need for an Independent StancePart One: CriticismCanadian Literature, Criticism, and Evaluation:The Literary History of Canada The Thematic Approach to Canadian Fiction Poet as Critic: Louis Dudek Atwood as (Infuriating) Critic The Function of Canadian Criticism at the Present Time The Quest for the (Instant) Canadian Classic The Post-Modernist Phenomenon and Canadian Literature 'Criticism in Practice': John Metcalf's Private PartPart Two: FictionThe Art of Frederick Philip Grove: Settlers of the Marsh as an Example Overview: Ethel Wilson, Providence, and the Vocabulary of Vision Novelist or Essayist?: Hugh MacLennan and The Watch That Ends the Night The Roots of Fantasy: Document and Invention in Robertson Davies's Fiction The Not-So-Divine Comedy of Robertson Davies Margaret Laurence's The Diviners: The Problems of Close Reading 'Layer on Layer': A Reading of Hugh Hood's A New Athens The Case for Hugh Hood Two Reviews of Rudy Wiebe 1. The Mad Trapper 2. Sex and the Dead Jack Hodgins and the Sources of Invention Hodgins's 'Pack of Crazies': The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne On the Edge of Something Else: Jack Hodgins's Island World Interpreting and Misinterpreting 'Bluebeard's Egg': A Cautionary TaleWorks CitedIndexBiographical Note
W. J. Keith was born and raised in England. He came to Canada in 1958 where he taught at McMaster (1961-66), then at the University of Toronto (1966-95). Since 1995 he has held the position of Professor Emeritus of English at University College, University of Toronto.W. J. Keith edited the University of Toronto Quarterly (1976-85), and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1979.An updated version of Canadian Literature in English was published in 2006.
'The study of English literature (and, by forced alliance, Canadian literature) is beset by "isms". Critical obfuscation is rampant. And the secondary text, not the primary, is now idolized. But here and there a reactionary voice is heard, and none more powerful and insistent than that of Keith, whose stance, though independent, is thankfully not unique. Eloquently and lucidly urging the validity (even necessity) of evaluative and formalist criticism -- paying attention to the primary text, its artistic "making" and its artistic value (what it says about life) -- Keith offers eight essays on critical theory and practice, and a further thirteen on a variety of Canadian writers, in all of which the argument for the "inevitability of evaluation" is "consistently and conspicuously" made.'This is a diverse set of essays, most of them previously published, which may be read individually as commentaries on Louis Dudek, Margaret Atwood, John Metcalf, Philip Grove, Ethel Wilson, Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, Hugh Hood, and Jack Hodgins; or together as a manifesto on modern Canadian criticism and literature. Either way, the reading is a salutary experience whose conclusion is summed up in Keith's essay on Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg: "We need to approach literature not with made-to-measure theory but with a flexible, verbally sensitive critical practice that attempts, tentatively, humbly, sometimes painfully, to develop a tradition of close and accurate reading." This is not, as I'm sure Keith would agree, a plea to ignore history, biography or cultural milieu, but rather one that urges the paramount importance of the primary text.' -- R.G. Moyles Canadian Book Review Annual