CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Linda Leith

Toronto, ECW Press, 1990. 92pp, cloth, $18.95
ISBN 1-55022-114-0. (A Reader's Guide series). Distributed by Butterworths Canada. CIP


George Woodcock

Toronto, ECW Press, 1990. 67pp, cloth, $18.95
ISBN 1-55022019-5. (A Reader's Guide series). Distributed by Butterworths Canada. CIP

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up
Reviewed by Louise Reimer.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

As Canadian fiction has gained acceptance in the curricula of literature courses, the demand for supplementary literary criticism has emerged. Once again, ECW Press has risen to fill a gap with a series of short, novel-specific reader's guides, "Canadian Fiction Studies" (see also the review of Introduc­ing Margaret Atwood's Surfacing by George Woodcock and Introducing Timothy Findley's The Wars by Lorraine M. York on page 184 and the review of Introducing Sinclair Ross's As for Me and My House by George Woodcock and Introducing Farley Mowat's The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Lorraine M. York on page 185).

The Apprenticeship of Buddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler (1959; Penguin Books, 1973) and Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan (Collins, 1945; Macmillan, 1986) are regularly studied by second­ary and post-secondary students. In these two recent volumes in the "Cana­dian Fiction Studies" series, George Woodcock and Linda Leith, both critics of solid reputation, provide concise critical introductions to the two novels.

The series follows a standard format: a chronology; a discussion of the novel's importance, context, and critical recep­tion; an extended analytical reading of the text, focusing on language, theme and character; a selected annotated bibliography of secondary sources; and an index. Both Leith's and Woodcock's discussions are cogent and well argued and they offer particularly perceptive comments on characterization. In addition, both prove their measure as critics by refusing to lapse into national­istic adulation and by offering full and impartial consideration of the novels' strengths and weaknesses.

These slim, attractive volumes will prove a lure to students browsing the shelves for a quick critical read. Those expecting a simplistic "Coles Notes" type of introduction will be beyond their depth in these two volumes, however, for many of the ideas and arguments have a level of sophistication most suited to students with at least a rudimentary exposure to literary criticism.

Louise Reimer, Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton, Alta.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works