Canadian Identity through Literature

By Massoura, Kiriaki | British Journal of Canadian Studies, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Canadian Identity through Literature


Massoura, Kiriaki, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Mary Koutsoudaki (ed.), Canadian Identity Through Literature (Athens: Savalas Publications, 2002), 110pp. 9.70 Euros. ISBN 9-6046-0850-9.

Mary Koutsoudaki sets the tone for this collection of seven essays at the beginning of this book: a 'modest publication' which will 'encourage wider interest in Canadian Studies' in Greece. This is indeed the first publication and therefore an important contribution from the University of Athens to Canadian Studies. The essays included in the collection are diverse: three edited conference papers, two articles, one short story and one excerpt from a novel.

David Staines' essay presents an appropriate introduction to the theme of Canadian identity through literature: the remarkable development of this identity, from colonial dependence upon British traditions to postcolonial independence. Staines uses a collection of literary texts to illustrate his point, starting with Reverend Charles Gordon's first novel Black Rock: A Tale of the Selkirks in 1898 and finishing with Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace in 1996. Mary Economou- Bailey's essay examines Margaret Atwood's heroines in relation to their search for identity and their survival. Bailey makes brief references to some of Atwood's novels and analyses in more detail The Handmaid's Tale (1984), The Robber Bride (1992) and Alias Grace (1996). Because of its descriptive nature this essay does not offer any fresh insights into Atwood's writing, but it works as a good introduction to her fiction.

The third essay by Theodore Sampson defines today's Canadian poet as a self-confident artist with a respectful audience, in contrast to the Canadian poet thirty years ago who lived as 'an exile . . . in his own country'. …

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