Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Landscapes of War and Memory: The Two World Wars in Canadian Literature and the Arts, 1977-2007

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Landscapes of War and Memory: The Two World Wars in Canadian Literature and the Arts, 1977-2007

Article excerpt

Sherrill Grace, Landscapes of War and Memory: The Two World Wars in Canadian Literature and the Arts, 1977-2007 (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2014), 636 pp. Paper. £35.99. ISBN 978-1-77212-000-4.

Landscapes of War and Memory demonstrates that what Canadian society has decided to forget about both world wars is not forgotten. Remembering and forgetting are given equal focus as Grace encourages the reader to engage with the past and to consider the question posed by Frederick Varley in his famous painting of 1918, For What? Grace's study begins in 1977 because this marks the publication of Timothy Findley's The Wars and Can You See Me Yet? and Heather Robertson's A Terrible Beauty: The Art of Canada at War. She takes 2007 as her end date because it marks the restoration of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial near Arras, France, as well as the release of Brian McKenna's film The Great War. Grace poses two questions: Who remembers? And to what end do we engage in remembering the two world wars? She argues that now is the time to answer these questions because the immediate pain of war has dissipated and the passage of time allows for greater objectivity as well as freedom of critical analysis.

Part one explores the landscapes of war and of memory. In part two, 'Remembering the Nation in the First World War', Grace discusses novels, theatres of war, film, and autobiography. Part three, 'Intermission between the Wars', explores the notion of living in a haunted world. Part four, 'Testing the Nation in the Second World War', focuses on the Second World War in the Pacific, the extent to which Canada had been depicted as a promised land, and the aftermath of the war. …

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