Academic journal article Mennonite Quarterly Review

Rudy Wiebe: A Tribute

Academic journal article Mennonite Quarterly Review

Rudy Wiebe: A Tribute

Article excerpt

In 1962, Rudy Wiebe--lean, energetic, 28 years old--was a youth sponsor in a Winnipeg Mennonite Brethren church that I, a young teenager, sometimes attended. I was too young and much too flippant then to have read Peace Shall Destroy Many, which came out that fall. But I was aware that this rather self-possessed sponsor of ours was something of a cause celebre.

Forty years later, it is a very special pleasure, Rudy, for me to pay tribute to you, as writer and friend.

I don't need to tell this audience that Rudy Wiebe is a highly respected Canadian writer. His influence as a major player in working to ensure the well-being of our national literary culture is widely acknowledged. No one would question, Rudy, that you have been a formidable force in shaping Canadians' perceptions of the prairie, the north and the indigenous peoples who occupied our land long before the Europeans arrived. Well into the 1970s our national myths held that vast regions of the Canadian landscape were empty before the white man came, and you--giving expression to your own experience and helping to articulate our newly recognized postcolonial condition as Canadians--demonstrated that Canada had for centuries been full of people, stories, voices. And you brought those voices to life. The voices of Big Bear and others.

Big Bear was already there, of course, in 1962 in the pages of Peace Shall Destroy Many, a novel in which the natives and Mennonites lived side by side. But it is the Mennonites who interest us here. At the conference on Mennonite/s Writing in Canada, held in Waterloo in 1990, Canadian literary critic Clara Thomas declared that, while she admired the work of Rudy Wiebe, his characters would never be able to reveal her to herself as Margaret Laurence's Hagar Shipley had done. I remember thinking, "Oh yes, Professor Thomas. I am sure that is so. Go ahead and lay claim to Margaret Laurence and all the other Anglo-Presbyterians in Canada. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.