Author : Inglis Freeman Bell,Jennifer Forbes,Jennifer Gallup
Publisher : University of Washington Press
Release : 1971
ISBN : 0987650XXX
Language : En, Es, Fr & De
Book Description :
To anyone who has crossed the Canadian prairies, the title of this book, Vertical Man/Horizontal World, will strike a responsive chord -- man stands alone in seemingly limitless landscape "as empty as nightmare". The stark isolation of man against the prairie's landscape is "so obvious" the author says, "that except for passing comments [in two studies of Canadian prairie fiction] no one has made a sustained analysis of the use of the prairie in Canadian fiction, or argued at any length for what most immediately unifies the literature of the prairie region." Author Ricou argues that man is intimidated by the vastness which so surrounds him, and "he will almost certainly wish to meet the challenge of this land, to say 'Look, look!' in whatever way he can, by raising a crop or a monument, by interpreting his experience in paint or words." Ricou traces this recurrent theme in prairie fiction from writers such as Frederick Philip Grove and Wallce Stegner, Edward McCourt and W.O. Mitchell, to Margaret Laurence and Robert Kroetsch. In tracing the relationship of man and land from the earliest writers of prairie fiction to the most recent, Ricou shows how the calm and benign relationship of man and land as exemplified, for instance, in the fiction of Robert Stead and W.O. Mitchell has changed in recent novels to a more dramatic confrontation. "[The novelists] find in [the landscape] an ideal mirror for the dilemma (and often the strength) of existential man." Critic Henry Keisel once wrote: "To conquer a piece of the continent, to put one's imprint upon virgin land, to say 'Here I am, for that I came", is as much a way of proving one's existence, as is Descartes' "cogito, ergo sum." Vertical Man/Horizontal World is an affirmation of Kreisel's statement. Slowly and cumulatively Ricou traces the image of man leaving his mark on the empty, sometimes nightmarish land of the Canadian prairie. "How do we fit our time and our place?" is a question posed by all the writers Ricou examines. "The answer," he says, "at this point in the evolution of Canadian prairie fiction, delivered with conviction . . . is: abruptly and uneasily, but brazenly and delightedly." This book is a sustained and penetrating look at the interrelationship of man and landscape in Canadian prairie fiction.