This Side of Heaven: Determining the Donnelly Murders, 1880 by Norman N. FeltesThis Side of Heaven: Determining the Donnelly Murders, 1880 by Norman N. Feltes

This Side of Heaven: Determining the Donnelly Murders, 1880

byNorman N. Feltes

Hardcover | May 11, 1999

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What personal vendetta motivated a group of men, labelling themselves a Vigilance Society, to enter the Donnelly farmhouse in southwestern Ontario on that night in February 1880 and brutally bludgeon the family to death? According to the author, this is the wrong question to ask. In This Side of Heaven, a phrase he takes from the verse on the Donnelly family gravestone, Norman Feltes suggests that this legendary event cannot be fully understood through conventional narrative, but only as the historical product of the diverse economic, socio-political, and ideological conditions that underlay Biddulph Township during the late nineteenth century.

Factors such as the way the region was surveyed and settled, the emerging pattern of its canal and railroads in competition with those of the United States, its distinctive wheat trade, and the patriarchal gender relations in its villages and towns, all converged in a unique set of forces that 'overdetermined' both of the murders and the trials at which the vigilantes were acquitted. Using a rigorous marxist structuralist methodology, the book draws the reader into a compelling web of economic, social, and geographical structures, showing how human actions, sometimes murderous, arise from forces larger than the individual.

Norman N. Feltes is Professor Emeritus of English, York University.
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Title:This Side of Heaven: Determining the Donnelly Murders, 1880Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9.25 × 6.3 × 0.97 inPublished:May 11, 1999Publisher:University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing DivisionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802044867

ISBN - 13:9780802044860

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Through an examination of economic, social and geographical structures, this book shows how large forces caused the infamous Donnelly Family murders in 1880. Norman N. Feltes argues that factors in Biddulph Township during the late 19th century may have been the motivation behind the ‘Vigilance Society’ brutally bludgeoning the Donnelly family. This Side of Heaven asserts the way the region was surveyed and settled, competition with the US, a distinctive wheat trade and patriarchal gender relations impacted the socio-historical site of the murders and the trial at which the vigilantes were acquitted.