The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction - Vol. 3

By John Clement Ball | Go to book overview

C

Callaghan, Morley
COLIN HILL

Morley Callaghan was among the most significant Canadian novelists of the mid twentieth century. In his early career, he was an originator of Canadian modern realism and was connected with international modernists including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein,’ Ford Madox Ford, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and Sherwood Anderson. Although he wrote fiction until his death in 1990, he is best known for his first two collections of short fiction – A Native Argosy (1929) and Now That April’s Here (1936) – and for a string of social, urban realist novels published between 1928 and 1937 which were widely read in Canada. His fiction is characterized by a stark realism, a leftist political stance, sustained interest in moral and religious questions, and a sociological and naturalistic interest in human nature and experience.

Callaghan was born on February 22, 1903 in Toronto to literary and politically active parents. Except for a European sojourn explored in his memoir That Summer in Paris (1963), Callaghan lived nearly all his life in Toronto, which is the setting for most of his writing. He trained as a lawyer but never joined the bar. He began publishing short fiction in 1925, and his stories appeared in venues such as This Quarter, the New Yorker, Scribner’s Magazine, transition, and Exile. His first novel, Strange Fugitive (1928), explored working-class life and politics; it was published in 1928 after Fitzgerald – who refereed an infamous boxing match in which Callaghan defeated Hemingway in Paris in 1929 – recommended it to Max Perkins of Scribner’s. Two naturalistic novels published in the 1930s, It’s Never Over (1930) and A Broken Journey (1932), are similar in tone and subject matter to Strange Fugitive.

Callaghan’s fourth novel, Such is My Beloved (1934), is commonly considered his finest. It focuses on Father Dowling, a naive Catholic priest who tries unsuccessfully to redeem two female prostitutes against the backdrop of a generic North American city in the grip of the Great Depression. They Shall Inherit the Earth (1935) is Callaghan’s most overtly political novel and deals with class politics through a symbolic and violent family conflict. The most productive and important phase of Callaghan’s career came to a close with the publication of More Joy in Heaven in 1937. This final novel of his early period follows a convict after his release from prison and explores the social forces that lead him to reoffend. Callaghan would not publish serious fiction again for a decade and a half.

In 1951, Callaghan re-emerged with The Loved and the Lost, a social-realist novel set in Montreal which explores various facets of racism and social inequality using the methods of his earlier works. His later novels, which received mixed reviews, became increasingly experimental and adventurous. The Many Colored Coat (1960) is a melodrama with biblical parallels that explores the lives of an eccentric cast of characters: a business man, a distillery worker, an ex-boxer, and a prostitute. Callaghan became overtly symbolic in the controversial A Passion in Rome

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The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Fiction - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editors i
  • The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literature WWW.Literatureencyclopedia.Com ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Notes on Contributors to Volume III xv
  • Introduction to Volume III 937
  • A 942
  • B 980
  • C 995
  • D 1034
  • E 1052
  • F 1066
  • G 1094
  • H 1121
  • I 1145
  • J 1154
  • K 1167
  • L 1180
  • M 1198
  • N 1252
  • O 1270
  • P 1277
  • Q 1296
  • R 1300
  • S 1325
  • T 1365
  • U 1370
  • V 1373
  • W 1378
  • Z 1398
  • Index 1400
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