From an essay by Adrian Michael Kelly:

A national literature cannot be administered and is no longer germane to the fiction that we call Canada.  A national literature, or an aggregate of works that emerge from the very marrow of a language and culture, depends for its vitality upon sociological and mythological homogeneity.  The Celtic Renaissance which the younger Yeats wanted could not have taken root in a polyglot and ethnically diverse Ireland. Whatever else Canada may be, it is certainly polyglot and multi-form, an agglutination (“mosaic” implies pattern and harmony) of ethnic constituencies few of which maintain organic connections with the others.  Why should the poetry of Bliss Carmen (or Dionne Brand or Michael Crummey for that matter) lodge in the heart of a Serbo-Canadian in Vancouver or a German-speaking Mennonite in southern Manitoba?  Should it find a sounding in “common Canadian values?”  What are they exactly?  Those sanctified by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  (Who among us can recite a line of that?) 

One thought on “CanLit

  1. I don’t know if there exists a set of Common Canadian Values. But I do think you have hit on something by mentioning the Chater. One aspect of the Charter that is integral to the Canadian Identity is the promotion of national empathy. Canadians, (if I can generalize) tend to stretch their arms wide in welcome. The Charter’s fundimental message is that everyone gets an equal chance, a fair shake. Is it because Canada leans slightly to the left? Or is it because we’ve institutionalised a common respect for others? Maybe “respect” is too strong of a word – maybe it should be “tolerence”. Maybe “No Biggie” is closer. If a Canadian met a two-headed man at the border, she’d likely tell him where to buy 2 for 1 touques!

    Kathleen Molloy, author – Dining with Death

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