Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Is Canada Postcolonial? Unsettling Canadian Literature

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Is Canada Postcolonial? Unsettling Canadian Literature

Article excerpt

Laura Moss (ed.), Is Canada Postcolonial? Unsettling Canadian Literature (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2003), 328pp. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 0-8892-0416-0.

Laura Moss's question, posed to twenty-two Canadian literature specialists, has elicted a fascinating range of responses. The initial question leads the contributors on to consider a number of further questions, summarised in the editor's preface as follows: 'Do theories associated with postcolonialism apply constructively into a Canadian context? Is postcolonial theory in Canada racially or culturally grounded? What is the nature of postcoloniality in a global economic situation? Are some Canadian writers more postcolonial than others?' (v). These, and many other related issues, are raised and debated in this book, and the sense of a conversation among the contributors is sustained by frequent cross-referencing among the essays.

Ten chapters focus on specific authors or literary topics, and include some fresh and persuasive readings of Canadian 'classics'. I especially liked Pam Perkins's essay on The History of Emily Montague and Cecily Devereux's reading of The Imperialist. Other chapters in this section deal with very recent texts, by authors including Thomas King, Fred Wah, and Marlene Nourbese Philip), and there are also essays on Italian-Canadian writing, and Mennonite literature in Western Canada, among other subjects. Manina Jones's essay on Stolen Life?, the autobiography which Yvonne Johnson wrote collaboratively with Rudy Wiebe, is particularly interesting. …

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