Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Literature, Arts and Criticism: The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Literature, Arts and Criticism: The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro

Article excerpt

Literature, arts and criticism David Staines (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 210 pp. Paper. £18.99. ISBN 978-1-1074-7202-0.

In putting together this Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro, David Staines has brilliantly fulfilled the series' aim of providing a comprehensive introduction to the work of a major writer. The book gathers ten essays by writers and academics from Canada and Europe. Munro emerges as the extraordinary stylist that she is, while the cultural context that has shaped her work and the critical context in which she is read are also examined. The collection thus expands on some of the key points in the scholarly analysis of Munro's work.

Staines opens the collection with a biographical essay, 'Alice Munro in her Canadian context', which emphasises the role of reading, as well as writing, in Munro's life. He also provides insights into her place in Canadian letters by evoking his friendship with her. Merilyn Simonds relies on her intimate knowledge of Munro's oeuvre to tackle the theme of place across a wide range of stories. Douglas Glover, in his analysis of Munro's style, shares his reading experience of Lives of Girls and Women from the viewpoint of a writer. Maria Löschnigg takes up Adrian Hunter's characterisation of Munro's stories as 'interrogative' to examine Munro's 'undogmatic feminism'.

Coral Ann Howells, in 'Alice Munro and her life writing', demonstrates how each published version of the autobiographical stories has a different inflexion, mirroring the subtleties of language and interpretation. Margaret Atwood approaches Lives of Girls and Women as 'A portrait of the artist as a young woman' to argue that in this collection, Munro developed her characteristic reconciliation of opposites. …

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