Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canada and the Idea of North

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canada and the Idea of North

Article excerpt

Sherrill Grace, Canada and the Idea of North (Montreal and Kingston: McGill- Queen's University Press), xxiv + 341pp. Cloth. £37.95. ISBN 0-7735-2247-6.

'And where is The North?' asked a recent Canadian visitor to Yorkshire, as the car approached an M1 junction, and our choice was reduced to a decision whether to go to 'The North' or 'The South'. As with all questions, geographical or otherwise, there are two answers - the short and the long. Presumably an equivalent on the Trans-Canada Highway would declare 'The West' or 'The East', though of course the labels 'The South' and 'The North' are familiar in Canada in all disciplines, from climate to culture, from 'cabbages to kings'. The short answer would give a destination, perhaps 'Edinburgh' or 'The North Pole'. The long answer would embrace the wealth of thought, example and reflection which is evident in this book. The long answer would concentrate on the journey and direction, rather than the end destination. This is captured very effectively in the use of the compass iconography on the dust-jacket and on key pages in the text. The important thing is to travel rather than to arrive, and here we have an admirable guide.

This book has been a joy to read and review. It is comprehensive, challenging and conceptually an academic tour-de-force. Successive chapters deal with The North in the disciplines of philosophy, criticism, history, geography, painting, sculpture, photography, theatre, music, fiction and Aboriginal discourse. The breadth of thought is impressive, and one marvels at the quality of coverage from so many disciplines. …

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