Literature and Society in the Canadas 1817-1850

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This is the only work which examines the early literature of Upper and Lower Canada, written in both languages, in an historical context. Includes all the newspapers, periodicals, and separately published volumes produced in the two colonies between the end of the War of 1812 and the middle of the 19 century, as well as relevant archival material. Data is organized by analyzing questions of nationality, identity, historical events, social relationships and chronological change. Presently the only work which examines the economics of publication as well as methods of literary distribution, regional aspects of publishing and reading, and the only examination of the sources of literary content in the newspapers of the time. When the literary productions are analyzed it is evident that the attitudes of the native-born English resemble those of the native-born French more closely than they do those of the English immigrants. Many of the analytical results are either unique or contradict established theories. Shows the range and extent of literary life in a complex period in Canada's cultural development.


"This is a welcome addition to research on literature and society in the first half of the nineteenth century. The book is important because it provides much-needed details, names, dates, and locales of authors, publications and publishers in English and French. This is foundation material for literary scholars working in this period, and it has the advantage of being interdisciplinary. . . . The scholar and general reader will be pleased with the extent of the material presented. . . . The thorough bibliography is commendable and the index is helpful. This book offers important new material on pre-Confederation literature, and is informative on literature and society for scholars and general readers outside the period." -- The American Review of Canadian Studies

". . . breaks new ground in several ways, primarily with its overview of early literature in the Canadas, based not on a narrow canon of republished texts, or even on lesser-known monographs, but on the poems and stories found in newspapers and reviews which formed the bulk of literary production. . . . the sheer dimension of MacDonald's study - a survey of 125 books and pamphlets of the period, as well as the literary offerings of 116 periodicals and newspapers - will cause scholars to refer to it for some time. She also provides useful overviews of the history and demographics of the period, of writer and reader expectations of the literary, and of educational and cultural structures." - Canadian Literature

". . . a work of thorough scholarship, based upon sound historical knowledge and careful study of the entire canon of work published in the Canadas or for Canadian readers between 1817 and 1850. . . . Sometimes with wit, and always honest to historical context and detail, Dr. MacDonald has investigated and considered every aspect and connection of the complex society of the Canadas as it related to its literature. . . " - Joyce Banks

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