Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Canadian Short Story: Interpretations

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Canadian Short Story: Interpretations

Article excerpt

Reingard M. Nischik (ed.), The Canadian Short Story: Interpretations (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2007), x + 426pp. Cased. £45.00. ISBN 13-978-1-5711-3127-0.

In the introductory article to this volume, which includes the contribution of twentysix scholars from German-speaking countries, Reingard Nischik summarises three major aims. First, the studies aim to offer an overview of the status, criticism and historical development of the English-Canadian short story and subsequently to 'further raise the profile of the Canadian short story, as it much deserves, next to its well-established American counterpart' (p. ix). Second, the volume intends to map out the 'international' response to Canadian short-story writers '[by] referring especially to [academic responses from] the "Canadophile" German-speaking countries' (p. ix). Third, it aims to outline the wideranging critical perspectives on the analysed short stories. To this end, the articles offer brief general information on a selected author, contextualise the author's short-story production, and underline the impacts of his/her work in a broader sense.

While all three objectives are to varying degrees fulfilled by the volume, the desire to emphasise the international response to English-Canadian short fiction often coincides with the focus on how scholars affiliated with universities in Germany, Switzerland and Austria interpret a series of canonised English-Canadian short stories. The conservative selection criterion of including the most anthologised Canadian authors certifies critical approaches to the writings of Charles G. D. Roberts, Stephen Leacock, Raymond Knister, Sinclair Ross, Sheila Watson, Alice Munro, Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood, for example. In addition, it results in the exclusion of 'many others also deserving attention' (p. 2) such as Alistair MacLeod, Rohinton Mistry, Dionne Brand or Neil Bissoondath. Thus, the twenty-eight articles centre on the most anthologised Canadian writers, on celebrity authors who have been awarded literary prizes for their work, and on prolific writers who transformed short fiction into a popular genre both in Canada and internationally.

The introductory articles offer surveys of the established thematic unity in Canadian fiction. …

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