Dictionnaire des idées reçues au sujet de la littérature Canadienne-anglaise
par Polly Flaubert
Always call her “Peggy” to imply close acquaintance. Deplore the damage Survival has wrought on two generations of Canadian critics; remark that her thesis is merely a defence of her own literary themes. Admire her rapier wit, and canoeing skills
Usually printed in lower case, as in “bp Nichol” or “bill bissett.”
The accepted explanation for inferior craftsmanship or tired themes in literature and life.
Postgraduate game of trivial pursuit. Denies the reader faith and the author free will; promotes the critic as the writer of the text.
In reference to language, its contrary is “French.” In reference to spelling, “American.” Prefaced with “the”, these may be people’s grandparents.
Always call him “Norrie”, to imply close acquaintance. Deplore the damage The Anatomy of Criticism has wrought on two generations of literary critics; remark that his thesis is merely a defense of his own metaphysical preoccupations. Admire his erudition, and his typing speed.
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S AWARDS, The
A national lottery attended with much pomp and circumstance*
(***SINCE THIS WAS WRITTEN TWO OTHER MAJOR AWARD CEREMONIES HAVE COME INTO BEING, BOTH CONVENIENTLY BEGINNING WITH A ‘G’” THE GILLER AND THE GRIFFIN.)
Nova Scotian judge and storyteller; creator of Sam Slick and thereby of North American humour in general. Less celebrated than Leacock, but I was saving my “L” for somebody else.
Having a metallic flavour or texture.
and February and March. In Canadian publishing, these are the final months of the preceding year’s business. This has something to do with Canada Council block grants; it also has something to do with the confusion of authors as to not only which month but which year their books are coming out.
First important Jewish writer in Canada. Saw some interesting analogies between Quebec in confederation and the Jews in Diaspora. See also “multiculturalism.”
The Canadian Keats. Bring up his name whenever anyone grumbles about the Post Office. Discuss “The Story of an Affinity” as giving the key to his love affair with Kate Waddell. Do not read it.
A bureaucratic rationalization for polite racism, whereby all Canadians but those of British ancestry are considered an “ethnic” group, and given little grants to dance in “native costume” or to produce anthologies of work which can then be classified outside the official canon.
The first of a series of coterie anthologies proclaiming a revolution in Canadian poetry. Totally ignored when it came out in 1936; now solemnly considered to be a turning point in the literature of this country.
A sex-symbol. If you are a woman, sigh whenever his name is mentioned. If you are a man, cite his work as evidence that the post-modern can be lyrical.
Early form of Deconstruction.
The face on stamps and dollar bills. For the post office, see “Lampman.” If you’re interested in money, what are you doing reading about Canadian literature?
Leader of the Métis rebellion. A prerequisite for inclusion in any literary guide to Canada is that you write at least one poem, play, story or novel about him. (N.B.: This doesn’t count if you are Métis yourself.)
STRATFORD FESTIVAL, The
Where actors are trained to flourish swords and blank verse in extravagant productions of foreign classics, after which they can go off to little theatres and wear their own clothes and accents in under-funded productions of original Canadian drama.
See New Provinces
In 1888 Charles G.D. Roberts applied for a professorship at Queen’s, but was rejected because he had no foreign training. A Scot, James Cappon, was hired instead. His only claim to fame today is that he wrote two books on the poetry of Roberts.
“Voila une grande tracasserie pour un mince sujet. Cela ressemble a la guerre des Anglais qui commenca pour quatre arpents de neige.”
Wrote one bad poem about Canada himself (“The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman”) and inspired hundreds of others.
A morbid fear and dislike of strangers, epidemic in most countries except Canada. Here, we generally assume that others come from somewhere more interesting, and project their view of us as “foreigners,” and therefore inferior, upon ourselves. There ought to be a name for this pathology, but there isn’t one
The national numeral, above and below which most of the interesting weather takes place. In its own person, it is most often found inscribed on royalty statements.
© copyright Susan Glickman 1989