An Essential Reading List from C.S. Lewis: An Experiment on An Experiment in Criticism (Throwback Thursday)

 

At A Pilgrim in Narnia we have an occasional feature called “Throwback Thursday.” This is where I find a blog post from the past–raiding either my own blog-hoard or someone else’s–and throw it back out into the digital world. This might be an idea or book that is now relevant again, or a concept I’d like to think about more, or even “an oldie but a goodie” that I think needs a bit of spin time.

For today’s Throwback Thursday I am not just looking backward but throwing forward.

I am spurred on by a contemporary moment that is nonetheless invisible to me. For some reason, my various posts on “canon” were being circulated in social media about a week ago. This usually means that someone with some prominence has posted on Twitter or Facebook, and that superstar’s followers have tumbled into a debate. I cannot find the source, but this happens with one post or another every few weeks. This post is an interesting one that took a lot of work to write, so I should be pleased.

What concerns me is the timing.

During the recent Hugo awards, I was part of an off-campus, unofficial panel to discuss the best speculative fiction novels of the year–an all-female cast that seems worth our bookstore dime and book-reading time. Unbeknownst to us, as George R.R. Martin was carping his way through World Con’s first fully digital award ceremony (including some interesting stories of past events), there was a social media flurry about various things, including the lack of acknowledgement of host New Zealand’s indigenous peoples (a storytelling miss at the very least, but symbolically important), GRRM’s less than sensitive approach to various culturally rich name pronunciations, and a renewal of the old canard: canon. A “canon” approach to reading will always, it is argued, reduce diversity, limit new voices, and put our literary trust in dead white men.

On A Pilgrim in Narnia I have always said “yes” and “no” to this argument, and been critiqued for it. One of the few comments I have not allowed to be published on this blog was someone who said that because of my approach, I was a fundamentally immoral human being. If the commenter had had the courage to name themselves, I would have let that profound comment about my heart to stand. In the meantime, I continue to say “yes” and “no” in this debate.

Yes, a scholarly, critical, and sales focus on “canonical” books really does narrow the band of readership to men of European descent (though there are strong women writers on the list–or my list, anyway). As a hopeful fiction writer, I too get discouraged by the fact that readers still spend most of their money on the classics (see this list here, which shows that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the UK’s favourite book) or on bestsellers. I wish readers were not so slow to pick up on new books, but frankly, I only read new books for four reasons:

  1. I want to teach a book;
  2. a recommendation;
  3. I want to hear a new voice (I am reading through Black SF women writers these days); or
  4. I already love the author (I am awaiting Marilynne Robinson‘s Jack for the fall and follow a few Canadian authors, like Margaret Atwood, Mark Sampson, Rebecca Rosenblum, Nalo Hopkinson, and Michael Crummey).

I think readers and publishers limit new authors and new voices, and that the canon is for most (but not all people) a shortcut for saying “the old books I love” or “the books I want to read because they are behind other books I love.” Sometimes they are, of course, “books I really should get to but I would rather read something else.”

And diversity? Yes, a Western canon like Harold Bloom’s will be relatively narrow. But that’s just his canon list. The canon is always growing and reforming and will in time be something different. If you have tried to read the most important books of an old date, like 1916 or 1843 or 1594, you’ll discover how many bestselling and even classic authors have disappeared. I hunt for new voices, but reading various canons and lists of foundational or important authors gives me diversity as well: a diversity of perspective, of worldview, of moral and religious thoughts quite unlike my own. This is what C.S. Lewis meant by the reading of “Old Books,” which can act like an introduction to another culture and an anodyne to some of the extremism of our own.

Which brings me back here, to the books that C.S. Lewis mentions in An Experiment in Criticism–an experiment that shifts how we think about this to the experience of the reader rather than canons of individual or cultural taste. A good book is a book that good readers love and reread, and reading brings us to the experience of the “other.” Diversity is critical to C.S. Lewis’ worldview, for a monochrome world is one stripped not just of colour but of life. In the encounter with “other” in reading, we are given the eyes of a thousand people to see the world in new and meaningful ways. So of course, diversity matters in reading, and I love to find some new author who brings me to new places. But I also like old books, I like knowing what the heck scholars and critics are talking about, and I like to know the stories behind the stories I love.

Why was this blog post suddenly popular? Probably for one of two reasons–though I would love to be corrected. It could be that someone posted it with a “Here, once again, the old white men working to keep their circle narrow” kind of approach. I am discouraged being called old, but I think I’ll recover and I like that people are talking about good books to read. Or it might be a reaction to the canon-outcry at the Hugos, a kind of “If you want read the real books, here’s a list from C.S. Lewis and some random blogger” kind of conversation. Perhaps this is benign, but last year, a couple of my posts were appropriated by an alt-right group (a Hugo-connected figure, incidentally), which I found a bit disturbing.

As I try to hold all of this together, I will be a disappointment and nefarious figure to most people who believe deeply in these matters. I have lost a number of active readers of this blog over the years because I seem too generous to other points of view or too closed-minded, because I flirt with literary theory or because I seem to lack theoretical strength, because I am either too close to an author (Lewis, Tolkien, Rowling, Montgomery, King, Le Guin, etc.) or failed to defend them enough, or because of what people perceive is my political view (which I have never shared here or in social media). So I have decided to republish this list. It may have been adored or excoriated on social media recently, I don’t know. Perhaps someone just thought it interesting or helpful or a good place to start for their own adventure in books or their curriculum development.

In any case, I think it is a good reading list for students of English literature, for those who want the foundational texts and authors of our diversifying culture, for those who want to know the stories behind Narnia and other books we love, and for those who will be the writers, teachers, and critics who want to reshape this list for the future. After all, I don’t think the last word in good books has been written–even by C.S. Lewis–and there are more experiments that are worth our while.


experiment in criticism cs lewisOn A Pilgrim in Narnia we have been playing with lists of the key books to read–what we might call a “canon.” We’ve thought about the key books of Western literature (here and here), thought about the problems of this discussion, and made some suggestions at developing our own Fantasy and SF canon. I also added a note on the death of Harold Bloom, a divisive and incisive figure. I thought today and next week we would turn to C.S. Lewis.

Lewis is one of the most widely read people I have ever encountered in history. He devoured books, which were his lifelong love and the foundation of his work as a scholar and writer. His own books are layered with hundreds of the great books of history hidden within the images, words, and stories. Even Narnia–especially Narnia, some argue–is soaked through with echoes from mythology, children’s fiction, the poets, Arthurian tales, medieval cosmology, and the Bible. Not just these books, but their fictional worlds too. Even the world of Sherlock Holmes is connected with our early Narnian heroes.

So what books must we read in order to experience the rich layers within even an accessible author like C.S. Lewis? The list is massive. Every time I read an old book or pick up a Medieval or Romantic poet, I find something new in Lewis’ fiction. We are going to lose if we try to reproduce Lewis’ reading list. It is largely unknown to us, I suppose. But, more than that, he began reading the great works as a child, and read too often and too quickly for most of us to ever catch up.

What I did, instead, was to conduct an experiment on An Experiment in Criticism.

An Experiment in Criticism is a fun little book. Lewis tries to answer the question great critics struggle with all the time (and we are thinking about here): what makes a great book? Lewis turns the question on its head by asking, “What makes a good reader?” I won’t tell you the answer to his question just yet (stay tuned), but in answering he considers in the 150 short pages of An Experiment in Criticism a vast swath of literature.

So I asked this question: What works of history would I have to read to know all the obvious references in this short book on literary criticism?

Naturally, we would turn to the index and bibliography. There is none. And there are very few footnotes. This is a senior scholar (Chair at Cambridge) writing an essay for his colleagues and students at the end of his life. It is an important essay, predicting the arrival of Reader Response Criticism and Deconstructionism, and answering those movements at the same time. The American and English critics of the period all read it. Still, it is a very short essay.

So what I did was go through the book carefully and pull out every overt literary reference. I counted references to 86 individual books and poems. There were also a few dozen nods to poets, mythologies, religions, critics, literary and art movements, and narrative epochs.

That’s a lot of references for a few short pages.

In the end, I think this list of references makes for a great list of canonical authors. True, most of the critics reading Lewis’ Experiment in the 1960s won’t have read all these books and poems, but they will have read many of them and have a passing knowledge of the rest. It is light on the novelists, and he doesn’t deal much with poetry. It has more fantasy than another theorist might entertain, as you might imagine from one of the 20th century’s great fantasists. But I think it makes a great reading list.

So I share it with you. You can read An Experiment in Criticism any time you want, but here is the list you would need to get every reference Lewis made. I also included a list of authors Lewis mentions by name, expecting the reader to know their works. In an even more significant way, this is the list of Western canonical authors, though one that would have been rejected by many at the time because of Lewis’ choices. Accidental and incomplete, it is a great way to dive in to a reading of our culture’s foundational books and the stories that the Narnian himself knew and loved.

Then, as you write your own poems, blogs, syllabi, and books, you can create a canon for the next generation.

A Canon List from An Experiment in Criticism

  • Homer
    • Iliad (c. 8th BCE)
    • Odyssey (c. 8th BCE)
  • Unknown, Book of Jonah (8th-4th BCE)
  • Pindar
    • Olympian Odes (early 5th BCE)
    • Pythian Odes (early 5th BCE)
    • Fragments (early 5th BCE)
  • Aeschylus, The Eumenides (5th BCE)
  • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex (c. 429 BCE)
  • Aristotle, Poetics (335 BCE)
  • Virgil
    • The Georgics (29 BCE)
    • The Aeneid (29-19 BCE)
  • Lucian, Vera Historia (2nd)
  • Apuleius, Metamorphoses/The Golden Ass (late 2nd)
  • Unknown, Beowulf (8th-11th)
  • Unknown, The Song of Roland (11th-12th)
  • Laȝamon, Brut (c. 1190-1215)
  • Unknown, Huon of Bordeaux (c. 1216-1268)
  • Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda (early 13th)
  • Dante, Divine Comedy (1308-20)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
    • The Canterbury Tales (late 14th)
    • Troilus and Criseyde (1380s)
  • Unknown, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (late 14th)
  • Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur (1485)
  • Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (c. 1516)
  • Arthur Brooke, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (1562)
  • Sir Philip Sidney, Arcadia (late 16th)
  • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1590s)
  • William Shakespeare
    • Romeo & Juliet (1591-5)
    • Twelfth Night (1601-2)
    • The Winter’s Tale (1611)
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1590-7)
    • Henry V (c. 1599)
  • John Donne, “The Apparition” (early 17th)
  • Michael Drayton, “The Shepherds Sirena” (1627)
  • Thomas Browne, Urn Burial (1658)
  • Jean Racine
    • Andromaque (1667)
    • Phèdre (c. 1677)
  • John Milton
  • Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1712-4)
  • Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726, 1735)
  • Voltaire
    • “Micromégas” (1752)
    • Candide (1759)
  • Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (1759)
  • William Beckford, Vathek, an Arabian Tale (1782)
  • James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798)
  • William Wordsworth
    • “Michael” (1800)
    • The Excursion (1814)
  • Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice (1813)
  • Walter Scott, Guy Mannering (1815)
  • Benjamin Constant, Adolphe (1816)
  • John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1819)
  • James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Witch of Atlas (1824)
  • Elias Lönnrot, The Kalevala (1835-49)
  • Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)
  • Charles Dickens
    • The Pickwick Papers (1836)
    • Great Expectations (1861)
  • William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)
  • Edward Fitzgerald, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1859-89)
  • Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers (1857)
  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1869)
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life (1871-2)
  • Samuel Butler, Erewhon (1872)
  • Lewis Carroll, “The Hunting of the Snark” (1874-6)
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Treasure Island (1883)
    • Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
  • Edwin Abbott, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884)
  • John Ruskin, Praeterita (1885)
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (1898)
  • H.G. Wells
    • First Men in the Moon (1901)
    • “The Door in the Wall” (1911)
  • Beatrix Potter, Tales (1902-1930)
  • Joseph Conrad, Nostromo (1904)
  • E.R. Burroughs, Tarzan (1912-1965)
  • Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)
  • Arnold Bennett, The Old Wives’ Tale (1908)
  • James Stephens, The Crock of Gold (1912)
  • D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers (1913)
  • Gertrude Stein, “Sacred Emily” (1913)
  • James Branch Cabell, Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice (1919)
  • Kafka, The Castle (1926)
  • Mervyn Peake, Titus Groans (1946)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings (1954-5)

List of Authors Whose Work Stands as a Whole

I thought it would be interesting also to make a list of people that Lewis mentioned by name in this short book–i.e., people one simply knows. I left out those more obscure that had previously been mentioned in connection with their works.

  • Homer (c. 9th BCE)
  • Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
  • Virgil (70-19 BCE)
  • Lucretius (c. 99-55 BC)
  • Ovid (c. 43 BCE-18 CE)
  • St. Paul (c. 5-66 CE)
  • Horace (65-8 BCE)
  • Dante (c. 1265-1321)
  • Chaucer (c. 1343-1400)
  • Malory (c. 1415-1471)
  • Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585)
  • Montaigne (1533-1592)
  • Tasso (1544-1595)
  • Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
  • Sir Phillip Sidney (1554-1586)
  • Donne (1572-1631)
  • Rabelais (c. 1483-1553)
  • Natalis Comes (1520-1582)
  • Marlowe (1564-1593)
  • Shakespeare (1564-1616)
  • Milton (1608-1674)
  • Dryden (1631-1700)
  • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
  • Dr. Johnson (1709-1784)
  • Ossian (=James MacPherson) (1736-1796)
  • Wordsworth (1770-1850)
  • Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
  • Jane Austen (1775-1817)
  • Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
  • Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
  • Balzac (1799-1850)
  • Tennyson (1809-1892)
  • Dickens (1812-1870)
  • Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
  • John Ruskin (1819-1900)
  • Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
  • R.M. Ballantyne (1825-1894)
  • George Meredith (1828-1909)
  • Jules Verne (1829-1905)
  • Walter Pater (1839-1894)
  • Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
  • Henry James (1843-1916)
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
  • Brunetière (1849-1906)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
  • A.C. Bradley? (1851-1935)
  • Rider Haggard (1856-1925)
  • Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
  • William Morris (1859-1896)
  • A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
  • Bergson (1859-1941)
  • W.W. Jacobs (1863-1943)
  • Kipling (1865-1936)
  • Walter De La Mare (1873-1956)
  • Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
  • G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
  • Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
  • Edgar Wallace (1875-1932)
  • E.R. Burroughs (1875-1950)
  • D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
  • T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Of course, any reader must also know Boswell’s Life of Johnson, critics such as Dr. I. A. Richards, Macaulay, De Quincey, and Matthew Arnold, fictional critics like Gigadibs and Dryasdust, literary historians like W. P. Ker and Oliver Elton, the Puritans, the Georgians, the Muses, Norse mythology, art history, iconography of the Eastern Church, musicology, the French poets, the Pastoral writers, Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories,” Gibbon, some general tenets of Thomism, and the counter-examples (such as Martin Tupper, Amanda McKittrick Ros, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and Patience Strong).

Note: If you see errors or omissions, please let me know and I will do my best to fix them.

Posted in News & Links, Original Research, Throwback Thursdays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Roundtable about Upcoming Online MA Literature Courses at Signum University (Aug 14th, 2020, 10am EDT) #Tolkien #Chaucer #EddicPoetry #Vampires

As some of you know, I have been an online professor even before this current moment of remote emergency education. As I have blogged about it a few times (see here and here), many know that I teach with Signum University. Over a decade of growing our program, we have become experts in digital education that concerns deep topics. Our online MA in Literature and Languages is not accidental or thrown together, but a creative and high-quality education with world-class scholars and teachers. Our very popular linguistics program specializes in Germanic Philology, including language learning and close reading of ancient texts. And our literature program–where I teach–draws deeply from both classical and medieval sources as well as imaginative literature in the world today, with a special focus on Tolkien Studies.

Signum is fully online and highly accessible, offering relatively low-cost MA classes with leading scholars in the field as lecturers and experienced preceptors to lead small group discussions. I quite love the model that Signum uses, and I am not surprised that our design team has become a leading voice in online education during this very strange social distancing time (see here, including tips and a long free training video).

On Friday we are having a prof roundtable to talk about the new courses offered at Signum University this coming Fall Term, and meet the professors who will be teaching them. Representatives of the four Autumn courses – The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien (by John Garth, based on his new book and precepted by Sara Brown and Kris Swant), Folkloric Transformations: Vampires & Big Bad Wolves (taught by myself and Dr. Maggie Parke), Chaucer I: Visions of Love (taught by Corey Olsen, Liam Daley, and Nelson Goering), and Eddic Poetry in Old Norse (by Carl Anderson and Paul Peterson) – will be on hand to explain how their courses work, what people can expect if they sign up, and answer questions.

You can register for the free event on Fri, Aug 14th, 10am Eastern here. Here is a brief description of the courses:

The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien – John Garth delves into theories concerning geography, nationhood, and the environment to explore Tolkien’s primary and fictional worlds. It isn’t very often that we get to work with a professor as a new, important text is published. This brand new course works through John Garth’s discoveries during his years of research into Tolkien’s life and context.

 

Chaucer I: Visions of LoveChaucer I: Visions of Love – This class is the first semester in a two-part survey of Chaucer’s major works, looking at his early dream-vision poems and his greatest completed work: Troilus and Criseyde.

 

Eddic Poetry in Old NorseEddic Poetry in Old Norse – This course focuses on reading selections from this poetic literature in Old Norse, providing students with the opportunity to practice their skills in translating the Old Norse language.

 

 

Folkloric Transformations: Vampires & Big Bad Wolves – This course explores the transformations of folklore in modern literature, film, and TV, focusing primarily on vampires, as well as fairy tale creatures. I’m pleased to be part of the teaching team for this course for the second time. There are lots of ways that we could approach a folkloric approach to modern fiction, but in Folkloric Transformations: Vampires & Big Bad Wolves, she chose vampire fiction and stories about wolves and werewolves. Ranging from the mythic to the sardonic, from the creepy to the alluring, there is a stellar reading and viewing list:

If you are thinking about deepening your reading or even beginning a full MA program, feel free to send me a note: brenton.dickieson@signumu.org. To register for the free Roundtable on Fall 2020 Courses at Signum University on Fri, Aug 14th, at 10am Eastern, click here.

Posted in Fictional Worlds, News & Links | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hugo Award 2020: Best Novel Roundtable (Full Video)

For more than 65 years, fans have been gathering at Worldcon and selecting what they think is the best science fiction or fantasy work of the year. Unlike other award programmes–like the Nebula awards, which are chosen by writers, or awards chosen by professional panels–the Hugo Awards are chosen precisely by fans, members of the World Science Fiction Convention. As such, the Hugos can sway with the cultural moment, and in recent years has been subject to some controversy.

The proof of the sauce is in the tasting, however, and the Hugo Awards have tagged some of the most important books of the last century, including Frank Herbert’s Dune, James Blish’s A Case of Conscience, Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Ringworld by Larry Niven, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Ursula Vernon’s Digger, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Orson Scott Card‘s Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman and American Gods, Nnedi Okorafor’s gorgeous novella Binti–which I recently reviewed–and a stunning triple win for N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy.

The Hugo Award #1 choice is not always the book that resonates in the future, and sometimes books take a while to get into the hearts of readers. But the Hugo Awards have a way of highlighting authors like J.K. Rowling, Samuel R. Delany, George R.R. Martin, James Tiptree, Jr., Philip K. Dick, Octavia A. Butler, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Charles Stross, Robert J. Sawyer, Nalo Hopkinson, Isaac Asimov, David Brin, Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, John Crowley, Arthur C. Clarke, Jerry Pournelle, and Roger Zelazny.

This year, the convention was totally online due to COVID-19. George R.R. Martin was the host, with a series of pretty weird, often interesting, occasionally groan-worthy stories and anecdotes pre-recorded, and then live shots of the award announcement and then the authors’ reactions. It was neat to watch and made me long to be there live sometime.

This year’s list of nominees is tempting for readers. In the novel category, it is an all-woman cast, I believe, which is a comment all on its own. Which is why some of us teacherly-readerly folk at Signum University thought it would be fun and perhaps even useful to get together to discuss the best novel list.

Each reviewer took about five minutes to introduce their novel and talk about what they liked or didn’t like about it. We then opened it up for a wider discussion, taking questions and comments from the audience. In Battle of the Books style, the audience then voted on which novel they most want to read, and which they think should win the prestigious Best Novel Hugo Award. The actual winner was announced about an hour after our prestigious event, and Gabriel’s book took the night!

We have captured the video and have shared it here below. Want to follow what’s new and exciting in the world of science-fiction and fantasy? Need help deciding what to read next? Planning to move to a different planet and would like to read stories set on other planets to help you prepare (or, in my book’s case, other worlds)? Perhaps our ad hoc, voluntary, off-the-red-carpet panel will be the thing for you, where Science-fiction and Fantasy readers each talked about one of the shortlisted titles in the Best Novel category of the 2020 Hugo Awards!

Hope you enjoy!

P.S., I still think my book, The Ten  Thousand Doors of January, was the best.

bd

Posted in News & Links | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Lady and Our Lady: Galadriel as a ‘Reflexion’ of Mary,” A Signum Thesis Theatre on Tolkien & Catholicism by Mickey Corso (Mon, Aug 3, 3pm EST)

I am very excited to announce that Signum University MA student Mickey Corso will present his thesis “The Lady and Our Lady: Galadriel as a ‘Reflexion’ of Mary” to the public on Monday, Aug 3rd, at 3pm Eastern. Besides the fact that a strong consideration of J.R.R. Tolkien and his Roman Catholic context along this line is sorely needed, I am proud to be Mickey’s Supervisor. Mickey will spend a few minutes presenting his ideas, and then he will respond to questions from the audience in an interactive Thesis Theater. I hope that you can join in, ask some difficult and helpful questions, and deepen your connection to Tolkien’s works.

The event is free and open, but limited to 100 participants. Sign up here: https://signumuniversity.org/event/thesis-theater-mickey-corso/.

Thesis Abstract

J.R.R. Tolkien asserted that

“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision” (Letters 142).

In particular, Tolkien noted the influence of his devotion to the Virgin Mary on the character of Galadriel:

“I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary” (Letters 320).

While many Tolkien scholars and critics have affirmed or argued against this connection, there is no comprehensive presentation of specific evidence for Tolkien’s claim through a close reading of the text in the context of Tolkien’s English Catholic piety and worldview.

This thesis investigates such evidence and demonstrates a reciprocal applicability, or reflexion, between Tolkien’s primary world devotion to Mary and his secondary world Galadriel. After articulating what Marian pious practices were widespread in early twentieth century Catholicism in England and considering the probability that Tolkien engaged in such practices, the thesis traces Galadriel’s depiction through the manuscript history into final form and relates it to prayers and teachings current in Marian piety to shed light on Galadriel’s development.

About the Presenter

Michael J. Corso, Ph.D. is a lifelong Tolkien fan who is excited to have earned a degree at Signum University. He also has a doctorate in Theology and Education from Boston College and is currently the chair of the theology department at Catholic Memorial School in Boston—where he regularly brings up Tolkien to his students. “Mickey,” as he is known to family and friends, is married to Catherine, his wife of 35 years, and has two daughters, Rebecca and Elise, who are themselves enthusiasts of all things Middle-earth.

About Signum Thesis Theaters

Our graduate students write a thesis at the end of their degree program, exploring a topic of their choice. The Thesis Theatre is where they can present their thesis to the Signum community and wider public, enabling them to explain their research in detail, and respond to questions from the audience.

Posted in News & Links | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum (A Review and 10-Minute Book Talk)

So Much Love is an exquisitely crafted book. It is the story of a twentysomething mature student, Catherine, a lover of books who finds her life patterned after the creative and tragic story of a local poet who was killed just as her first collection was about to be published. The wispy threads of connection between the reader and the poet become hard knots when Catherine is taken at night. Her captor, whose character never quite comes into focus, keeps Catherine in darkness, using her for his frayed desires until she is in danger of wasting away. When the other victim she shares the darkness and pain with dies, all Catherine has left are memories of her loving husband and the poems of the local poet—a woman also lost to male violence.

Where Hollywood has to end a story, Rosenblum has the courage to begin, so that the question is not simply “will Catherine be rescued,” but “how much of Catherine was taken?” While the diction of So Much Love is free and open and varied, it remains a difficult book to read. Like Michael Crummey’s fiction, though less local and with more distinctive colour-patterns in the fabric, Rosenblum gives the reader no quarter for escape. The warp and weft of intensity and distance keep the reader near to the text and knitted to the protagonist’s story.

This connection with Catherine is all the more striking because of Rosenblum’s sophisticated experiment with voice, perspective, and time. We do not get the inside of Catherine’s experience for most of the novel, and when we do, she is herself tired of the constant inner monologue of fear and rage. There are many voices and points of view in the novel—not a patchwork quilt, but a pattern that moves in and out of the centre.

While the voice is sometimes more successful than the experimental point of view—and Rosenblum really can give distinctive textures to her characters’ lives—the entire, intricate, multi-linear narrative structure works to create intimacy with the characters—something that many of the postmodern authors failed to invite in me. Though the seams between the stories sometimes feel mismatched at times—though I believe the novel is designed to require something of the reader—the character life of So Much Love neither disappears into a monochromatic haze nor pixelates into meaninglessness.

Discerning what So Much Love means is more difficult for me than describing the literary quality and structure of the book. I can’t help making the parallel with Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych, which one of the characters reads for her high school English class. While Ivan Ilych is itself an experiment in writing about the inner life, there is a nearly linear nature to its interiority. It offers a question—what can this life of beauty and suffering possibly mean?—and an answer, I believe. Our generation cannot abide by answers to questions in fiction, but we seem to be yearning for action. To that extent, So Much Love asks Tolstoy’s question, but says in response: one must live. For all the violence and fear and sadness, there does seem to me to be an invitation to life here.

This beautifully designed novel by Canadian short story writer Rebecca Rosenblum is a startling literary discovery. So Much Love is less Doris Lessing and more Vincent Lam. What makes So Much Love a more effective novel than the latter’s Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures is not merely Rosenblum’s pattern-master ability to weave together short stories into a single novel. Rosenblum creates a tight emotional connection with characters—not just the good ones or the suffering ones, but also the characters who are insipid or horrifying. As it sat on my bedside table, I never loved the title, So Much Love, Yet, it captures with literary depth the complex material of life.

Posted in 10 Minute Book Talk, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hugo Award 2020: Best Novel Roundtable

For more than 65 years, fans have been gathering at Worldcon and selecting what they think is the best science fiction or fantasy work of the year. Unlike other award programmes–like the Nebula awards, which are chosen by writers, or awards chosen by professional panels–the Hugo Awards are chosen precisely by fans, members of the World Science Fiction Convention. As such, the Hugos can sway with the cultural moment, and in recent years has been subject to some controversy.

The proof of the sauce is in the tasting, however, and the Hugo Awards have tagged some of the most important books of the last century, including Frank Herbert’s Dune, James Blish’s A Case of Conscience, Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, Ringworld by Larry Niven, Neuromancer by William Gibson, Ursula Vernon’s Digger, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Orson Scott Card‘s Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman and American Gods, Nnedi Okorafor’s gorgeous novella Binti–which I recently reviewed–and a stunning triple win for N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy.

The Hugo Award #1 choice is not always the book that resonates in the future, and sometimes books take a while to get into the hearts of readers. But the Hugo Awards have a way of highlighting authors like J.K. Rowling, Samuel R. Delany, George R.R. Martin, James Tiptree, Jr., Philip K. Dick, Octavia A. Butler, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, Charles Stross, Robert J. Sawyer, Nalo Hopkinson, Isaac Asimov, David Brin, Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, John Crowley, Arthur C. Clarke, Jerry Pournelle, and Roger Zelazny.

This year, the convention is online due to COVID-19, and the list of nominees is tempting for readers. In the novel category, it is an all-woman cast, I believe, which is a comment all on its own.

Some of us teacherly-readerly folk at Signum University thought it would be fun and perhaps even useful to get together to discuss the best novel list.

Each reviewer will take five minutes to introduce their novel and talk about what they liked or didn’t like about it. We will then open up for a wider discussion, taking questions and comments from the audience. In Battle of the Books style, the audience will then vote on which novel they most want to read, and which they think should win the prestigious Best Novel Hugo Award. The actual winner will be announced at CoNZealand, shortly after our event!

Want to follow what’s new and exciting in the world of science-fiction and fantasy? Need help deciding what to read next? Planning to move to a different planet and would like to read stories set on other planets to help you prepare? Then join us at 7pm Eastern on July 31st for our non-affiliated Hugo Awards evening, when a panel of Science-fiction and Fantasy readers will each talk about one of the shortlisted titles in the Best Novel category of the 2020 Hugo Awards!

Hope to see you there!

Time and Date: July 31, 2020 – 7:00-8:00 pm EDT. To Sign Up click here.

Posted in News & Links | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Nnedi Okorafor Deep Future Story for the Moment, Binti

What a discovery Binti has been for me! In Binti (2015), Home (2017), and The Night Masquerade (2018), Dr. Nnedi Okorafor has given us a living, vibrant, complex character in literary SF prose.

Binti is the award-winning novella of a young African woman with a special gift enhanced and challenged by her rugged stubbornness, deep love, and dynamic intelligence. Binti’s community is closely modelled on the Himba people of southwest Africa, including the special braiding of her hair and the red-clay otjize that coats her skin for beauty, protection, and an embodied sense of culture. Binti is a “master harmonizer,” someone who is able to use a genius for mathematics, a training in advanced technological development, and the customs of her people to “speak” into the world, bringing people and worlds together in harmony or challenge.

In the first book, Binti sneaks off to be the first of her tribe to attend the interstellar university, Oomza Uni, which fills a planet far from the deserts of Africa. While in flight, Binti and her entire cohort from Earth are killed by Medusa-like beings (the Meduse) who are enemies of the dominant ethnic group in Binti’s area, the Khoush (Ethiopian descendants perhaps, or Northeast Africa?). All of her Khoush peers and professors are killed, but because of an ancient technology and her own wits, Binti lives.

As a harmonizer, Binti finds herself, in this story and the following ones, drawn into the role of peacemaker. The role involves great risk. One risk is that Binti is put in mortal danger and significant pain a number of times. But there are deeper risks. Binti is alienated from her peers, her family, her homeland, and her sense of self. Each time she works as a harmonizer, her identity grows more complex, troubled, and strange. Her sense of personhood gets drawn into the deep past, into the concerns of honour and courage of different peoples, and into the physiology of alien beings. The series is less about the texture of what I call “deep futurism,” or a particular set of adventures. Instead, the Binti trilogy is about the title character and her sense of self in a mysterious universe.

While Binti’s world is far into the future and involves complex identity matrices, the series is more in Octavia Butler‘s tradition than N.K. Jemisin‘s, in my reading. As she creates or receives biological changes that innervate symbiotic relationships with other people or species, these changes shake her–and our–understanding of what it means to be human. In this sense, Okorafor’s work is an important exploration of transhumanism. The Binti series works beautifully as a literary version of the Ship of Theseus Paradox, exploring the question of personhood and individuality, while also troubling our understanding of how to relate to the “Other”–something that science fiction is brilliant at that Okorafor, Butler, and Jemisin take to new heights of beauty and interest.

Binti comes to me as a gift emerging from the current moment. I found N.K. Jemisin and Octavia Butler with no sense of who they were as people, but I hunted out Nnedi Okorafor’s work because she is a Nigerian-American SF writer. I may have stumbled onto her work eventually, as I heard about Lagoon in researching Afrofuturism and heard Okorafor’s name on CBC. But I wouldn’t have hunted down the first book, Binti, one the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella. It’s not an award category that I pay attention to, apparently to my own detriment!

While I discovered Binti because it was recommended as an example of Black women writing SF, it has none of the “model book” syndrome that can occur in the warp and weft of social movements–particularly if they are struggling out of a space of limitation. Binti is an intricately imagined character with a beautifully crafted book tucked in around her. And although three African tribes seem to make up all that is left of Terran-Instersteller relations in this imagined future, and though Binti’s own gift as a “harmonizer” could have been overplayed, there is no misty-eyed romanticism here. Binti is fierce in peace as in justice, rugged and independent and yet rooted deeply in tradition and family. Okorafor uses the Himba people as a model for the root of Binta’s deep future identity. She, like her people, have flaws and limitations and things to learn, but these flaws are written in a way to quicken the pulse of the reader and to help Binti find her own way.

What a discovery!

I know I have glowed quite a bit in this review. Though I am thrilling with the experience of reading, it isn’t that the series is perfect. The experimental use of voice works pretty well, though some of the shifts are less elegant than others. It is at times difficult to keep track of, particularly as we are introduced to new worlds through discovery or waking. Pacing-wise, the three books work far better as a single, moderately-long novel. Beyond the fact that voracious SF readers will respond well to the 400-page version, the series of heights work well as a character-driven (rather than plot-driven) episodic novel. The three-story bundle also tempers an inordinately long denouement in The Night Masquerade. That said, if I was thinking of adaptation, I’d be optioning it for a Netflix-style serial rather than a blockbuster film. I hope it happens: Binti could live far past these few pages.

So this is a good book. It has such a nice script; living characters leap off the page. The Binti cycle also hits so many of the notes of today: Afrofuturism, Deep Futurism, Black Women as a force in “hard” science fiction, feminism, local and global identity, race, religion, and culture, transhumanism, and intersectionality. Binti is a powerful book for the moment.

Posted in Fictional Worlds, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Neil Gaiman on Discovering the Author in Narnia (and a note on beards)

I love this little clip by Neil Gaiman about “the book that made me an author.” While Gaiman is one of the most important fantasy authors of our age and a great reader in his own right, there is a perception that he resists C.S. Lewis. This might be because they have a different worldview, or have different audiences (except perhaps in The Graveyard Book or Coraline), or because of his infamous short story, “The Problem Of Susan.”

And yet, I think we can see the true appreciation in this lovely moment:

“It was the first time I ever realized that somebody was really writing this stuff. He would do things like parenthetical asides, put these things in brackets. And I could go, ‘there’s somebody here. There’s an author. He’s doing this!’”

There is also an important note about beards. I hope you enjoy this piece!

And here, Neil Gaiman goes a little deeper:

Posted in Feature Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

L.M. Montgomery, the Radio, and Nostalgia in the Podcast Age

This is a piece of writing I have been working on this spring. I even managed to pull in J.R.R. Tolkien on this reflection, and had to restrain myself there. The way writers of the post-WWI age both resisted technological progress and set the stage for the future is worth deeper study. You can read an adapted, more focussed version on the L.M. Montgomery Institute website as a launch of the MaudCast, which I have had the pleasure of hosting. I’m a little more open here about my anxieties about drawing Montgomery up into our new technologies, but also hopeful. The MaudCast teaser at the bottom plays off the same theme. 

L.M. Montgomery, the Radio, and Nostalgia in the Podcast Age

Reading L.M. Montgomery’s journals and thinking of our current COVID-19 season, I have wondered if the Spanish Flu spurred on the desire for the radio. In WWI, the radio was a piece of technology used only in war and industry. Word of mouth, letters, and the daily papers were the only ways that people at home could connect to the global moment. I think of Rilla of Ingleside, the final book in the Anne series and the most important piece of fiction for an at-home experience of the Great War. As the Four Winds children find themselves drawn into the conflict overseas, the Blythe family’s kitchen becomes a war room with maps and news clippings and dispatches to and from Prince Edward Island’s rear-guard action.

Yet, although we imagine the ‘20s as the age of jazz humming through every street, the decade began with nearly empty airwaves. As social distancing in 1918-1920 America kept people away from church and market and gossip from town, the need for news and entertainment at home becomes pressing. I do not know how many people believed the conspiracy theory of the time that radio waves caused the Spanish Flu. But in terms of technological adoption, everyday folk took up the radio almost as quickly as they did the Internet.

While L.M. Montgomery was not an early adopter of the radio, she records her initial encounter with the idea of it in her journal entry of Dec 16, 1922:

The papers nowadays are filled with radio. Dr. Shier has a set and he told me recently that last Sunday morning he heard a sermon preached in Pittsburgh, Pa. in the morning and one in Chicago in the evening (Selected Journals 3:105).

Montgomery’s reaction is quite mixed:

It is all very wonderful—and I find it a little depressing. Is it because I’m getting on in life that all these wonderful inventions and discoveries, treading on each other’s heels, give me a sense of weariness and a longing to go back to the slower years of old. Doubtless that has something to do with it. But I do really think we are rushing on rather fast. It keeps humanity on tiptoe. And all these things don’t make the world or the people in it any happier. But I think this will go on for two or three hundred years—I mean the flood of great discoveries. Then probably the Zeit Geist will get tired and take a rest for a few centuries and allow humanity to rest with him. But those of us living now have to speed on with him willy nilly (Selected Journals 3:105).

Nearly a year later, in October 1923, the Montgomery-Macdonalds drove to Uxbridge, ON to listen to the radio—music in Chicago, IL and a speech in Pittsburgh, PA (Selected Journals 3:150), almost eerily predicted in her previous entry. Montgomery thought it was “a very marvelous thing” that “will probably revolutionize the world in another generation” (150-1). As above, she admits to feeling unsettled about the idea of the radio more than the actual experience of it.

Montgomery was not alone among artists in resisting new technological development, which seemed to them to pummel on just for the sake of progress.

When told that factory chimneys and motor-cars were sings of “real life,” J.R.R. Tolkien mocked the idea. These inventions are “pathetically absurd” and “obsolete” compared with living things like elm trees and horses and even centaurs and dragons. Tolkien, like the Four Winds children in Rilla who are about his age, was a product of the war of progress and technology, WWI. You can feel the frustration Tolkien had with the dehumanizing result of endless progress in his poem, “Mythopoeia”:

the dark abyss to which their progress tends
if by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name

And, yet, technology frames Montgomery’s Anne series—even moreso than a later series like Emily. While Matthew’s buggy and the sorrel mare are part of Island culture from time out of mind, Anne Shirley arrives at Bright River on the 5:30 train—a technology that has changed the literal and political landscape of Prince Edward Island. Telephone wires in Charlottetown signal to the young Queen’s scholar Anne that she is far from home. The telephone becomes a lifesaver when Dr. Blythe practices in Glen St. Mary’s and the Four Wind’s Harbour—and it works pretty well for “news” of all sorts—whether from the war or the village.

Still, Montgomery wants to slow the progress down, keeping the radio out of her books until the ‘30s and letting the telephone sit at the back of the stories. These technologies are supposed to save time, but Montgomery says that instead, they “only fill it more breathlessly full” (Selected Journals 3:105). While the young may find some excitement in new technologies, as she approaches fifty, Montgomery looks back to the “old ‘90’s with a feeling that they were a nice unhurried leisurely time”:

But perhaps that is only because I lived in a remote little country place eleven miles from a railway. Even today life is very unhurried and peaceful in Cavendish. Yes, I daresay that is the explanation (Journals 3:105).

Anne recalls a similar feeling on a phone call to Diana:

“I can’t realize that we really have telephones in Avonlea now. It sounds so preposterously up-to-date and modernish for this darling, leisurely old place” (Anne’s House of Dreams 2).

“Realize” is Montgomery’s privileged word for what we might call “letting it sink in.” I have never felt this way about technology—never in awe or distant from it. I have felt, though, how time has become “breathlessly full,” and find myself longing some days for simpler times. I keep a small plot of land in New Glasgow, just south of Cavendish, with an escapist dream of disappearing from the world to the countryside. The time is not right–hobbit holes are not as cheap as you might imagine to build–but the longing is there.

Montgomery was right that rapid progress would increase in the coming decades as we have seen technological developments in communication, travel, warfare, engineering, and education. Until pretty recently, the escalation was escalating. Besides stale-dating our age of progress to two or three centuries, Montgomery also makes a prediction about how we will communicate in the future:

In a generation or two letters will be obsolete. Everyone will talk to absent friends the world over by radio. It will be nice; but something will be lost with letters. The world can’t eat its cake and have it too (Journals 3:105).

If we can tint her looking glass a bit, we can see how Montgomery is prophetic. Letter-writing is a thing of the past in many places in the world and for most people—though I do send my nephew old postcards from time to time to make him smile. However, it is an intensely tech-based age, isn’t it? Digital natives are comfortable connecting through screens, so that thumb-texting does what letters used to do, creating a stand-in for the in-person experience. Letters are gone but not the experience of letter writing, it seems (see here for “The Art of Letter Writing in the Digital Age“).

And if we can extend Montgomery’s image of “radio” to digital spaces, our Zoom and Skype generation has gone far past what ham radio operators ever could have imagined. I think this is what has made podcasting as an art form grow so rapidly. Blogs continue to grow, there is still a place for print media, and I still want to read a good old-fashioned book. But even in an age with fingertip-ready video content, there is a return to the voice in the podcast world. Perhaps this is, in a sense, an attempt to “talk to absent friends the world over by radio” that Montgomery predicted.

It is partly because of this connection that we have decided to launch the MaudCast, a podcast of the L.M. Montgomery Institute. Recognizing Montgomery’s warning that technology in and of itself cannot make us happier, we want to make good use of the “airwaves” a century after her discovery of the radio. In the MaudCast’s quest to discover innovative scholarship about the life and works of Lucy Maud Montgomery, we welcome to the microphone leading academics, emerging scholars, local researchers, and imaginative readers and writers from around the world.

Given Montgomery’s yearning, I wonder what she might say about this endeavour. As the host of the MaudCast, I must admit that it is a worrisome question!

Our hope for this podcast, though, is to bring the best of Montgomery’s created worlds to lovers of her stories throughout the world. In this way, I hope it is a kind of slowing down, a going back and a kind of rest as much as it is a moving forward with the times. Because the airwaves of the 2020s really are, to use Maud’s terms, “marvellous.”

Posted in Canadian literature, L.M. Montgomery, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Is L.M. Montgomery Canada’s Author?

In the L.M. Montgomery feature in Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians series, novelist Jane Urquhart describes how Montgomery’s novels created a literary legacy in her small-town family. Urquhart’s grandmother’s Anne books “electrified” her mother’s childhood, adding “meaning and intensity even to the most ordinary of its attributes” (144). Montgomery’s ability to create stories that transform the mundane into the magical has caught the imagination of millions of readers the world over.

Among the hockey players, politicians, and scientists, there are other Canadians in this series, such as Jewish novelist Mordecai Richler, and Stephen Leacock, for whom the pen was an outlet of the tongue. There are so few authors in the series, it seems, because most of our great Canadian writers are simply not dead enough. There is a stellar cast of Canadian authors working in this generation wit a global readership, including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Yann Martel, Miriam Toews, Alice Munro, Lawrence Hill, Douglas Coupland, William Gibson, Michael Crummey, and Guy Gabriel Kay. I suspect the 2050 version of the Extraordinary Canadians series will have a more literary tinge.

As I mentally walking through my CanLit bookshelf, though–which includes local authors of depth and beauty that the world is unaware of–I can’t help but wonder which author is quintessentially Canadian. I don’t just mean any one particular category, like the fact that Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry makes him “in” because it is set in Toronto but he is “out” because he often lives and works oversees. And I don’t quite mean global presence, though I suppose Margaret Atwood–friends call her “Peggy”–is something of a Canadian ambassador and speculative fiction superstar, and Alice Munro as a noble laureate is someone of particular note.

What I mean is something less definable and more deeply hued. When I ask, “Who is Canada’s author?”, I am asking what writer holds the best of Canada together with a distinctive presence and leaves a mark that is quintessentially Canadian.

I know it’s a terrible award category, but I still think it comes down to two figures. In a distant second is Robert Munsch, who has probably sold more books than any living author and is one of the more dynamic children’s authors in the world. There are a dozen books I can recall that are full of energy and humour, but The Paper Bag Princess remains my favourite. You simply have to be impressed with someone who can write a book that will make even prison guards cry (of course, I mean Love You Forever).

In the end, though he is very popular, Robert Munsch is less distinctively Canadian than many of the authors I’ve named. Which is why it comes down, for me, to Lucy Maud Montgomery.

L.M. Montgomery–friends called her “Maud“–is undoubtedly Canada’s bestselling author. With dozens of translations, Anne of Green Gables has sold about 50 million copies, and was a global hit within weeks of publication in 1908. Often set in a relatively vague Victorian-Georgian context, Montgomery’s books capture the rural and small-town feeling of Canada’s first half-century as a country. Her characters seem to grow out of the Canadian land and sea, sometimes in rural East coast accents, and sometimes drawing on Scotch- and French-Canadian folklore. Though some of the later adult novels are less intimately connected to place and voice, her books capture the essence of Canada.

And though she lived in Ontario for half her life, Montgomery was a proud Prince Edward Islander in her heart and her stories. As I have travelled throughout the world, people know about our little Island precisely because of how Montgomery has so vividly painted a portrait of our world. It’s an imaginary world, of course, but one that is meant to make us laugh and cry, to long for simpler days and hope for romantic endings. Though I like to think that PEI is a bit more than mundane, Montgomery has made it an extraordinary place in her fiction and in the way we live our culture in the shadow of her books.

In the 2050 version of this ill-defined “Who is Canada’s author?” contest, it may be someone else. We may be celebrating one of the “greats” I listed above, or we may be nominating an emerging or unknown author that captures the diversity of Canada in its second century of life. Perhaps it will be one of our First Nations authors, someone who can evince for us something of the largely untold story of Canada’s indigenous experience. Whatever the case, Montgomery will still be in the running even as some of the bestsellers of today and tomorrow slip back into history. There is something about her best work that just continues to live and continues to be simply Canadian.

Posted in Canadian literature, L.M. Montgomery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments