Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities

Article excerpt

Justin D. Edwards and Douglas Ivison (eds), Downtown Canada: Writing Canadian Cities (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), viii + 227 pp. Cloth. $60. ISBN 0- 8020-8720-5. Paper. $29.95. ISBN 0-8020-8668-3.

'Why have the city and urbanism so often been absent from critical discussions about Canadian literature and culture? What is unique, or not, about Canadian cities? How has the city been represented in Canada?' (introduction, p. 12). These are some of the central questions addressed in Downtown Canada, which argues that the city has always been highly important to Canadian culture, although its significance has been obscured by dominant public mythologies of wilderness and the rural.

In accordance with this emphasis on 'the role that the city has long played in the production of Canadian literature' (p. 9), the collection begins with three essays considering the literature of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Richard Cavell's contribution (a particularly strong one) is on 'Defeatured Topologies in Canadian Literature', and concerns 'the evacuation of meaning' from landscape (p. 15), a process which Cavell relates to colonialist projects. Steven Artelle's essay on post-Confederation literary culture in Ottawa effectively combines historical research with literary analysis in its account of the attempt to make Ottawa the intellectual capital of Canada. Christopher J. Armstrong's interesting (if occasionally confusing) piece centres on Halifax, reading Hugh MacLennan alongside Thomas H. Raddall.

The book's emphasis is, however, on contemporary fiction (as is the case with so many new publications in the field). The remaining seven essays all focus on novels from the post-1970 period, although most contextualise these books through reference to earlier periods of literary history. …

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.