Avant-Garde Canadian Literature [electronic resource]: The Early Manifestations
Betts, Gregory Author
2nd ed.
Toronto : University of Toronto Press Feb. 2013
328 p. ill 09.330x06.330 in.
1442643773 (Trade Cloth), 9781442643772
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Toronto : University of Toronto Press Feb. 2013
1442643773 (Trade Cloth)
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Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
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Scholarly & Professional University of Toronto Press
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2013-08-01:
Betts (Brock Univ., Canada) discusses the different facets of the avant-garde as manifested in Canadian literature. While the focus of his study is on literature, he gives examples of the avant-garde in other art forms as well, including the visual arts, theater, and dance. The author translates the French texts discussed in this work into English, and he explains that the avant-garde and surrealism began with the French and were imported to Canada. He argues that in Canada the movement became more puritanical because everything about how North Americans see and criticize art is more constrained than the way in which the French do so. Betts explains that many have accused the avant-garde of being decadent, wasteful, and indulgent; however, he believes that it is instead an attitude or a way of processing the melancholy aspects of the world that stands as the opposite of idealism and in opposition to capitalism. This highly specialized study concludes that the avant-garde is what opens up possibility and allows writers to understand human emotion in a way that linear storytelling cannot. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, and researchers. K. Gale University of Nebraska
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Choice, August 2013
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Main Description
In Avant-Garde Canadian Literature, Gregory Betts draws attention to the fact that the avant-garde has had a presence in Canada long before the country's literary histories have recognized, and that the radicalism of avant-garde art has been sabotaged by pedestrian terms of engagement by the Canadian media, the public, and the literary critics. This book presents a rich body of evidence to illustrate the extent to which Canadians have been producing avant-garde art since the start of the twentieth century. Betts explores the radical literary ambitions and achievements of three different nodes of avant-garde literary activity: mystical revolutionaries from the 1910s to the 1930s; Surrealists/Automatists from the 1920s to the 1960s; and Canadian Vorticists from the 1920s to the 1970s. Avant-Garde Canadian Literatureoffers an entrance into the vocabulary of the ongoing and primarily international debate surrounding the idea of avant-gardism, providing readers with a functional vocabulary for discussing some of the most hermetic and yet energetic literature ever produced in this country.

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