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Making Babies

Infants in Canadian Fiction

By Sandra Sabatini
Subjects Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature
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Hardcover : 9780889204232, 224 pages, December 2003


Although the infant has been a consistent figure in literature (and, for many people, a significant figure in personal life), there’s been little attention focused on infants, or on their place in Canadian fiction, until now.

In this book, Sandra Sabatini examines Canadian fiction to trace the ideological charge behind the represented infant. Examining writers from L. M. Montgomery and Frederick Philip Grove to Thomas King and Terry Griggs, Sabatini compares women’s writing about babies with the way infants appear in texts by men over the course of a century. She discovers a range of changing attitudes toward babies. After being seen as a source of financial burden, social shame, or sentimental fantasy, infants have increasingly become a source of value and meaning.

The book challenges the perception of babies as passive objects of care and argues for a reading of the infant as a subject in itself. It also reflects upon how the representations of infancy in Canadian literature offer an intriguing portrait of how we imagine ourselves.


``Although her camera is aimed at `babies,' Sabatini brings into comprehensive focus an immense amount of cultural history about both men and women. ...Her prose is more than clear. Sabatini has been included in The Journey Prize Anthology (1999), and this current book is graced by a gifted creative writer's poetic use of language. ...This book is a significant contribution to research. ''

- Mary Rubio, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph, co-editor of CCL: Canadian Children's Literature

``[A] critical study that, in its choice of texts, approach, and fundamental argument, presents a fresh and provocative reading of Canadian fiction in the twentieth century. ''

- E. Holly Pike, Canadian Children's Literature

``Making Babies: Infants in Canadian Fiction is an altogether exemplary work of literary criticism. Sabatini covers fertile new ground, makes a contribution to literary history, uses theory in a manner that illuminates the point at hand, avoids distortion of the literary texts on which her argument is based, provides fresh insights on those texts, and is splendidly lucid throughout. This is a very intelligent and engaging book, written with a clear passion for Canadian fiction and its long-forgotten babies. That Sandra Sabatini was the scholar finally to adopt these babies and allow them to be both seen and heard is our great luck. ''

- Constance Rooke, author of Fear of the Open Heart: Essays in Contemporary Canadian Writing

``Sabatini's textual readings are detailed and engaging. ''

- Marie Carriere, University of Toronto Quarterly--Letters in Canada 2003

``This provocative and thoughtful volume is sure to spark further critical consideration of a hitherto overlooked literary figure. ''

- Elisabeth Anne MacDonald-Murray, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2006

``Making Babies: Infants in Canadian Fiction is written with academic precision yet literary grace, as befits its subject. Sabatini is astonished that 'babies in literature' have been so ignored, even as the infant in the last Canadian century moved from the periphery of our lives to the centre. Let's have some voice appropriation, I say, and speak up for these wordless creatures. Read this remarkable, acute, perceptive book. ''

- Heather Mallick, The Globe and Mail

``Making Babies is a compelling and complex analysis of how babies are treated in our national literature novels, and how this reflects our attitudes towards them and towards ourselves. ''

- Murray Tong, Hamilton Spectator