Canada Contemporary Literature

By | December 25, 2021

Hints of national literature, despite the diversity of languages, have only recently been found. Beyond the conflicts between the two nationalities, historical studies have been consolidated on an objective ground. Distinctly nationalist works have continued to be published, in both fields, albeit nourished by solid doctrine; but, while Casgrain’s monograph Montcalm et Lévis (1891) was still dominated by ancient passions, the Marquis de Montcalm (1911) of the Chapais is instead written with greater serenity. Archival research received a powerful impulse in the capital and in the provinces; and besides the numerous investigations on single subjects, often excellent such as those of F. Parkman and GM Wrong, as well as excellent biographies such as the Pope’s Macdonald or the Willison’s Laurier, vast collections have been organized, such as the 23 vols. of Canadta and its Provinces (1913 et seq.) under the direction of AG Doughty and A. Scott; the 32 vols. of the Chronicles of Canada (1920 ff.) under the direction of CM Wrong and HH Langton; the monographs of The Makers of Canada, the archival publications edited by EZ Manicotte and PG Roy, etc. (see the Canadian Historical Review). For Canada 2008, please check

More difficult, however, is the fusion of tendencies in poetry. The identical repercussions on both literature of modern European literary currents sometimes gives the impression of an achieved closeness, but always the differences are reborn. On the English side, the poets of the older generation reconnect, amid English influences, to the tradition started by Lampman. William Wilfred Campbell (1861-1919), although more concentrated, is also, above all, the Ottawa nature poet (Beyond the Hills of Dream, 1899; Lake Lyrics, 1889; Collected Poems, 1905; Poetic tragedies, 1908). William Bliss Carman (born in 1861), after being inspired by Browning, achieved himself in an aestheticizing poetry, rich in color, where nature is felt pagan, or in ballads of rapid drama (Low Tide on Grand Pré, 1893; Songs from Vagabondia, 1894, 1896, 1901, 1912; Behind the Arras, 1895; Ballads of lost Haven, 1897; Pipes of Pan, 1903-1905; April Airs, 1916; etc.). Devoted to Shelley, to whom he dedicated a beautiful ode Ave on the occasion of the centenary (1892), Charles GD Roberts (born in New Brunswick in 1860), novelist, short story writer, poet, after having found in short colorful lyrics or landscape descriptions, now fresh now powerful, his happy personal note, s ‘is directed towards an art that is ever more literally expert and refined (see Orion and other poems, 1880; In divers Tones, 1887; Songs of the Common day, 1893; The Book of the native, 1897; New York nocturnes, 1898 ; The Book of the Rose, 1903), assuming a prominent position at the beginning of the present century (see J. Cappon, Roberts and his influence on his t ; mes, 1905). And also in the others, in Duncan Campbell Scott (Lundy’s Lane and other Poems, 1916; Beauty of Life, 1921; etc.), in Frederick George Scott, to mention only some of the best-known writers, the dominant stylistic tendencies arise, as already it had happened in Lampman, from the revival of English poetic traditions in contact with new forms of life. In her short, sometimes exquisite lyrics, and in her graceful short stories Angels’ Shoes (1923), Marjorie Pickthall (1883-1922) has a lightness of imagery reminiscent of Barrie. Modern expressionistic tendencies and North American influences are instead recognized in the works of younger poets.

Similarly, French-language literature reflects the evolution of poetry that took place in France after Romanticism. Preludes to an impressionistic poem already appear in A. Garneau’s Poésies, O. Poisson’s Chants du soir (1917), Rayons du Nord(1910) and W. Chapman’s Fleurs de givre (1912). From romantic inspirations, but with a modern, soft and musical sensibility, the poems of Albert Lozeau (1878-1924) were born: L’âme solitaire (1907), Le mhoir des Jours (1912), Les images du pays(1926). Decadent inflections take on the verses of Emile Nelligan, dictated at the age of twenty, on the threshold of madness and death. And to decadentism they recall with their exoticism and their symbolism, the Paon d’émail (1911) and the Poèmes de cendre et d’or by Paul Morin, Les BlessuresL’âge de sang and Les prédestinés by Jean Charbonneau, Les soirs and Le mauvais passant by Albert Dreux, etc.

In an attitude, however, both currents coincide: in resuming from the previous period and renewing the tradition of poetry of village customs. On the French side this happens above all in a certain poetry of a domestic tone: as in Par nos champs et nos rives (1917) and in La vieille maison (1920) by Madame B. Lamontagne, in Mon paysmes amours (1913) and in Dans la brise du terroir (1922) by A. Desilets, etc. On the English side, however, the same phenomenon is found above all in the novel. Gilbert Parker, destined to rise almost to the position of arbiter in European financial and political life as commissioner for the execution of the Dawes Plan, drew the fictional material of his stories above all from legend and history (see Pierre and his people, 1892: The Trail of the Sword, 1893; An adventurer to the North, 1895; The Seats of the Mighty, 1896, etc.) others, such as the poet Roberts (see Children of the Wild, 1902; The Heart of the Ancient Wood, 1900, etc.); W. Lighthall (see The Master of Life, of Indian matter); Robert Stead, Lucy M. Montgomery and, especially, Charles V. Gordon (pseud. Ralph Connor) and Frederick William Wallace describe the adventurous life in the maritime or border provinces. Charles V. Gordon is the poet of the life of the pioneers in the lands of the West, where he himself lived for a long time as a missionary among the miners (see Black Rock, 1898; The Sky Pilot, 1899; The man from Glengarry, 1901; The Swan Creek Blizzard, 1904, The Foreigner, 1909, etc.). And as a poet of the life of the fishermen of Nova Scotia began FW Wallace. Beyond the background unity offered by Canadian nature, one also feels in all these works the unity of effort to form a people who, in observing the reality of their own life, try to recognize their own character.

Canada Contemporary Literature