Reassessment of Early Twentieth Century Canadian Poetry in English

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This volume discusses more than a dozen poets who commended large audiences in the first part of the 20th century, and presents separate chapters on the public poetry and criticism of the period. In most cases, the book contains the most substantial treatments of the poets available to date. Other chapters on more famous poets such as Bliss Carman and E. J. Pratt are fresh and compelling. It is a combination of cultural psychology – the theories of Julia Kristeva and T. J. Jackson Lears – literary theory, social history and close reading. Students and scholars of Canadian Literature and North American History will find a wealth of information. The work also launches several significant debates about the history and implications of 20th century poetry.


“Alexander Kizuk takes a fresh view of the poetry of the first half of the twentieth century, beginning with the ‘surprising fact….that the Montreal modernists, led by A.J.M. Smith and F.R. Scott, had to hold poetry in Canada under the cold shower of T.S. Eliot for nearly three decades before it began to look a little less saturated with excess’. In this book Kizuk looks seriously at neglected poets not from the position that they represent ‘outmoded traditions’ but by examining the anti-modernism and the appeal to jouissance or ‘Bliss’ (a term which he uses in full punning consciousness) which unites them…..a useful book” – British Journal of Canadian Studies

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings):
Preface by D. M. R. Bentley
Part I: Public and Private Poetic Worlds
Twentieth Century Public Verse; Bliss Carman
Part II: Lovers and Their Avatars
The Song Fishermen of Halifax; Robert Norwood; Wilson MacDonald; Marjorie Pickthall
Part III: Visionaries and Wild Men
F. O. Call; W. W. E. Ross; Tom MacInnes; Arthur Stringer; A. M. Stephen; Raymond Knister; 1920’s Literary Criticism
Part IV: the Whale-King and a First-Class Literary War:
E. J. Pratt’s The Cachalot; Twentieth-Century Avant-Gardes
Notes; Bibliography; Index

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