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Notes and Commentaries

Volume 10, Number 1 (1985)

The Horses of Realism: The Layton-Pacey Correspondence

  • Erwin Wiens
May 22, 2008


Early in 1955, Desmond Pacey and Irving Layton met in Montreal, and so began a long friendship and an invaluable correspondence documenting the development of Canadian poetry and criticism after World War II, as well as the development of a major critic and pre-eminent poet. The letters are rich in personal drama, recording the triumphs and setbacks of both men, the tensions in their friendships, their often conflicting views on poetry (especially Canadian poetry) and on the role of the poet and critic in contemporary society. There are discussions of literary figures past and present, heated arguments on current political and social happenings, an exchange of bawdy jokes, and some frank praises and criticisms of each other's work. The tone ranges from jocularity to bitter disappointment, from anger to tenderness, from weariness to excitement.