Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Literary Culture and Female Authorship in Canada 1760-2000

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Literary Culture and Female Authorship in Canada 1760-2000

Article excerpt

Faye Hammill, Literary Culture and Female Authorship in Canada 1760-2000 (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2003), xxiv + 245 pp. Cloth. 54. $68. ISBN 9-0420-0915-2. Paper. 28. $35. ISBN 9-0420-0905-5.

Faye Hammill's book on six Canadian women writers covers selected writings that expand over two centuries and offers a remarkably insightful analysis of issues such as gender, national identity and the position of the female writer in the political and cultural dichotomy between the Old (England) and the New (Canada) world. Hammill remedies the critical neglect of some women writers such as Frances Brooke and Sara Jeannette Duncan whilst making well-researched comparisons between Susanna Moodie, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Carol Shields and Margaret Atwood. The book is structured in six chronological chapters, starting with Brooke and finishing with Atwood. The last chapter offers a comparison between Carol Shields and Margaret Atwood in relation to 'that Moodie bitch', in the light of the 1997 film The Enduring Enigma of Susanna Moodie.

Hammill offers illuminating close readings of novels such as Brooke's The History of Emily Montague (1769), Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush (1852), Duncan's The Imperialist (1904) and Cousin Cinderella (1908) and Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (1908) and the Emily novels (1923-27) and analyses how these female writers use familiar English literary forms (romance, autobiography, epistolary novel, travel writing) to describe unfamiliar Canadian landscapes, subjects, culture and society. The discussion of four of Shields' novels along with Atwood's collection of short stories Wilderness Tips (1991) relates to the previous authors the issue of the artist within the developing Canadian art and literature. …

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