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Ernest Buckler

Rediscovery and Reassessment

By Marta Dvorák
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature
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Hardcover : 9780889203549, 287 pages, September 2001


Margaret Atwood called Ernest Buckler “one of the pathbreakers for the modern Canadian novel,” yet he has slipped into relative obscurity. This new book by Marta Dvořák, Ernest Buckler: Rediscovery and Reassessment breaks new ground in Canadian literary studies by analyzing some of Buckler’s works that have remained unknown or unexplored by critics, and by addressing the formalistic innovations of these texts. It allows a general readership to discover — and an international specialized readership to reassess — the wide, even eclectic scope of an author best known for his first novel, The Mountain and the Valley.

Marta Dvořák situates Buckler firmly within his cultural and intellectual environment. She argues the importance of his connections with Emerson and the American transcendental milieu, and demonstrates his links with Romantics such as Schopenhauer and Shelley and modernists like Joyce, Faulkner, and Mansfield, as well as intellectuals from Aristotle to Aquinas. She explores his philosophical vision and his complex, adventurous relationship with language. Extracts from Buckler’s published and unpublished material juxtaposed with those from a wide range of writers (from Henry James to Foucault) offer new illuminating perspectives.

The progressive structure of the book will draw readers in to discussions on shared concerns: the nostalgia for a vanished past, the relationship between family and community, the rural and the urban, or the questioning of, and coming to terms with, ethics and the social fabric of today’s rapidly changing technological horizon in which traditional values are eroding.


``Dvořá an adept reader of theory and her application of history, philosophy, and culture to Buckler's intentions and results in his prose represents the engagement of a deeply intelligent mind with material entirely worthy of respect and celebration...She indicates clearly to readers of her book how importan and lasting his effort s with words remain....Dvořák's approach to Buckler is far ahead of its time....With this book Dvořák establishes herself as a major critical voice.''

- J.A. Wainwright, American Review of Canadian Studies

``In her conclusion, Dvořák makes an admirable argument for placing Buckler at the `crossroads' between `nineteenth-century cultural stances' (Platonic, Renaissance, and Romantic `phenomenological and ontological concerns') and `modernist' aesthetic philosophies, even anticipating `postmodern discursive techniques.'''

- Barbara Pell, University of Toronto Quarterly, 72:1, Winter 2002-3