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Durham e-Theses
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The Canadian fiction of Margaret Laurence

Bradbury, Agnes G. (1987) The Canadian fiction of Margaret Laurence. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

Between 1964 and 1974 Margaret Laurence (1926-1987) produced a body of fiction which established her as a major woman writer in a Canada where the emergence of post-war nationalism created a readiness to accept, buy and read books by Canadians about Canada. For this she created the town of Manawaka - partly based on her home town of Neepawa, Manitoba - which became the symbol of all Canadian small towns. The thesis is an examination in chronological order of her work: The stone angel, A jest of god, A Bird in the House (short stories).The Fire-Dwellers and the Diviners. Her writing deserves attention because it portrays Canadian life with integrity. As fiction by a woman about women, her work shows none of the romantic fantasising of the lesser novelist. Happy endings are never guaranteed; relationships have unharmonious elements. She reveals a society which imposes restraints on women, making it difficult to achieve self-fulfilment in a male-oriented environment where traditional role patterns stifle legitimate female aspirations. However, her novels are feminist by implication and not in an obtrusive or polemical way. An emergent theme is the injustice suffered by disadvantaged minorities represented by the metis of Manitoba whom she saw as dispossessed of their land by the Anglo-Saxon settlers. Mrs Laurence's technique was always experimental and developed from novel to novel. She employed variations of time and voice: the inner monologue is used to evoke an immediate response, the movement between past and present to highlight mood and temperament. These devices are examined in the thesis, as are her use of distinctive idiom and the symbolic elements of her writing. Finally, her honest attempt to depict the extraordinariness of ordinary people in carefully worked and sympathetically conceived stories speaks to the universal longing to learn about ourselves.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1987
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 May 2013 14:13

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