Ripostes: Reflections on Canadian Literature by Philip MarchandRipostes: Reflections on Canadian Literature by Philip Marchand

Ripostes: Reflections on Canadian Literature

byPhilip Marchand

Paperback | May 15, 1998

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Ripostes is a collection of essays on some salient features of the Canadian literary landscape, a number of which were first published in the Toronto Star, many of which appear in these pages for the first time. Included are essays on Atwood, Findley, Ondaatje and Margaret Laurence, as well as thematic explorations of Canadian literature such as an account of the demise of the Survival school of Canadian writing, a look at the recent history of the Writers' Union of Canada, an examination of the role of fathers in Canadian fiction, a study of the strange attraction of many of our writers to the occult, and so on.

The tone is considered, and critical rather than celebratory, although the essays are respectful of the genuine achievements of Canadian literature in the past few decades. They try to clear the air, as it were, of boosterism, political correctness, and other attitudes which hinder the appreciation and reception of good writing.

This is an honest re-appraisal of Canadian literature, undertaken at a time when we need no longer be overcome with relief and euphoria over the fact that some of our authors are now world famous, or at least world famous in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Philip Marchand was the book columnist for the Toronto Star for eighteen years, before retiring to write books in 2008. He is the author of Just Looking, Thank You, a collection of magazine journalism (Macmillan, 1976); Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger (Random House of Canada, 1989); Deadly Spirits, a crime novel (Stoddar...
Title:Ripostes: Reflections on Canadian LiteratureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:144 pages, 8.68 × 5.49 × 0.6 inPublished:May 15, 1998Publisher:Porcupine's Quill

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889841969

ISBN - 13:9780889841963


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Canada's unofficial literary police officer Readers concerned with the state and fate of Canadian literature will get the most out of this book, an informal, take-no-prisoners account of Canada's literary scene by one of its foremost professional book reviewers. Marchand's influences include Marshall McLuhan and Gore Vidal, and I think they provide an important clue regarding his conservatism and his quaint preference for theorizing Canadian literature and criticism along Presbyterian/Catholic axes. Unfortunately, this WASPish framework is woefully inadequate for treating the literatures produced in Canada today - as is his egregious misunderstanding of contemporary literary theory. What does Marchand mean by flaunting his ignorance of contemporary literary theory? (A writer who champions Stanley Fish's _Professional Correctness_ as cutting-edge commentary on literary theory while blasting Frank Davey's _Canadian Literary Power_ as intellectual pathology clearly hasn't clued in to the institutional inequalities of race, class, gender and sexuality that demand interrogations of the canon and the politics of representation.) Nevertheless, Marchand's essays and reviews are enjoyable on account of his cheeky, coolly familiar tone. He takes evident glee as an iconoclast among Canadian critics, lambasting _The English Patient_, questioning the need for literary awards and doing violence to the whole institution of CanLit.
Date published: 2002-07-29

Table of Contents

Confessions of a Book Columnist
For Want of a Reader
The English Patient
Father Figures
Margaret Laurence: Soul Woman
Are Literary Prizes Necessary?
Writers Just Want to Have Fun
Beyond the Veil: Canadian Writers and the Occult
The Demidenko Affair
Why Everybody Loves Indians
The Curse of the Duty Read
Literature and Politics: Five Reviews
The State of Canadian Poetry
Terry Griggs and Barbara Gowdy
A Chronicle of the Writers' Union of Canada
A Final Word from Two Canadian Critics
Top Ten People I Never Want to Meet in Print Again
Timothy Findley as Gothic Novelist
The Atwood Heroine

Editorial Reviews

`Ripostes are quick sharp replies. The word comes from the world of swordplay: in fencing, they're quick return thrusts. In Philip Marchand's hands, Ripostes is a book of necessary answers to the Professor Panglosses of Canadian letters. You know, the ones who ejaculate ``Atwood'' and ``Ondaatje'' as answers to any suggestion that things aren't just fine and dandy in CanLitLand -- the best of all possible post-colonial, post-patriarchal, post-modern book worlds. Ripostes is going to aggravate, annoy, gall, irk, miff, peeve, rankle, vex and just generally bug quite a few people. It thoroughly delights me. The author is a realist and a truth teller and I prefer truths and reality, even when i's hard, to soft and pleasing fantasies. Like Marchand, I'd rather read Russell Smith's How Insensitive than Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient.'