Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Undiscovered Country: Essays in Canadian Intellectual Culture

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Undiscovered Country: Essays in Canadian Intellectual Culture

Article excerpt

Ian Angus, The Undiscovered Country: Essays in Canadian Intellectual Culture (Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2013), 294 pp. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-1-92735-632-6.

Ian Angus's study is a text of three parts, which can each be comfortably read as contained sections, but also benefits from the gradual building of the collection's complex arguments. Written in lively and engaging prose, the study is an examination of Canadian intellectual thought touching on a number of both well-known and lesser-known figures. Angus spends the first six chapters looking at the role Hegel plays in the work of Charles Taylor, James Doull, C.B. Macpherson and George Grant. Whilst this might seem alarming to those of us who have lapsed in our attention to Hegel, the persistent reader gains immeasurably from the kinds of critique this angle produces. Angus is particularly good when it comes to notions of identity and inequality addressed in each thinker's work, building his own conceptions of 'complementary egalitarianism' (p. 28) and the 'emancipation of the propertyless' (p. 36).

At the centre of the book emerges a focused history of Canadian studies as a discipline, drawing support from part I's critiques and building a defence of the importance of Canadian thought. The tendency might be to suggest a particularity to this thought, but one of the crucial gestures of Angus's book is in exploring how 'critical distance depends upon prising apart particularity and universality' (p. 211). Much of the discussion then focuses on how the particular can provide its own claims to a potential universality. The wider point here concerns an investigation 'into the grounds of human solidarity' (p. 82). However, Angus's work addresses the function of 'nation' within Canadian studies projects, looking at how contemporary scholars might recuperate worth from the term by continuing to locate their work within the disciplinar y field of Canadian studies. …

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