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Volume 02, Number 2 (1977)

The Persuasiveness of Grant's Lament for a Nation

  • R. D. MacDonald
May 22, 2008


George Grant's Lament for a Nation, like Steven Leacock's "Old Farm in a New Frame," and Susanna Moodie's Roughing it in the Bush, understands the past as a mythical creation to which it is impossible to return. In his essays in Technology and Empire, Grant celebrates the tough asceticism of pioneer North America, while declaring the need to discover the universal through the particular. In Lament, he finds the particular in the personage of John Diefenbaker, who, in his allegiance to the British empire, becomes the incarnation of what had been beautiful and good in Canada and Britain, and the rallying point from which the reader must resist the further absorption of Canada by the modern or American condition. Through Grant's consideration and rejection of opposing arguments, he manages to persuasively suggest a more profound conservatism that transcends the temporal and polemical realm of Canadian nationalism.