THE NATIVE IN LITERATURE: CANADIAN AND COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES.
Edited by Thomas King, Cheryl Calver and Helen Hoy. Toronto, ECW Press. 1987. 200pp. paper. ISBN 0-920763-15-4 (cloth) $25.00. 0-920763-16-2 (paper) $15.00. CIP
Volume 16 Number 5
This book is a collection of papers presented at a conference held in Lethbridge in 1984. The papers focusing on images of aboriginal people in Canadian literature deal directly with the fundamental identity issue that both natives and whites face in Canada. The comment of writer Dave Godfrey that a Canadian is someone forced to choose between being an American and being an Indian is a theme of more than one paper.
As Eli Mandel notes in his contribution, the myth of primitivism has been around since the days of Shakespeare. Early Canadian authors, much like their European counterparts, had little understanding of aboriginal people. For far too many writers it was more convenient to use natives as aliens to serve as exotic, colourful stereotypes, not as real people. The focus on "literature" means that the pulp novels and periodicals where the myths and stereotypes are most prevalent are generally ignored. Consequently, even such an obvious con artist as author Lynn Andrews is treated with respect and gentle skepticism.
This book will be of interest mainly to those studying the portrayal of natives in literature or those interested in Canadian and Australian literature.
David Chadwick, Winnipeg, Man.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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