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Volume 02, Number 2 (1977)

Mandatory Subversive Manifesto: Canadian Criticism vs. Literary Criticism

  • Barry Cameron
  • Michael Dixon
May 22, 2008


Canadian criticism has too easily accepted the official description of a Canadian literature which expresses "survival in a garrison," with its attendant sociological and autobiographical connotations, thus failing in its primary task: to mediate between writer and reader. Northrop Frye's 1965 assertion that Canadian literature remains overly tied to its social and historical setting appears to be celebrated by writers such as D. G. Jones, Margaret Atwood, and John Moss, whose critical studies treat works of Canadian literature as repositories of indigenous themes and images documenting localized historical, psycho-social, mythological and political concerns, thus ignoring the importance of developing a Canadian tradition of comparative, formal criticism. Canadian literature can achieve its full potential only if a trained audience is developed with the critical awareness both to demand the highest accomplishment of its writers and to appreciate the accomplishment when it occurs.