Canadian literature  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Criticism of Canadian literature has focused on nationalistic and regional themes. This has diminished the appreciation of complexity of the literature produced in the country and helped create the impression that Canadian literature is sociologically-oriented.

While Canadian literature, like the literature of every nation state, is influenced by its socio-political contexts, Canadian writers have produced all variety of genres. Influences on Canadian writers are broad, both geographically and historically.

Canada's dominant cultures are British and French. Canada also has multiple Aboriginal nations and has been strongly influenced by international immigration, particularly in recent decades.

Traits of Canadian literature

Traits common to works of Canadian literature include:

  • Failure as a theme: Failure and futility feature heavily as themes in many notable works; for instance, Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley or Kamouraska by Anne Hebert.
  • Humour: Serious subject matter is often laced with humour. See also: Canadian humour.
  • Mild anti-Americanism: There is marked sentiment of anti-American often in the form of gentle satire. While it is sometimes perceived as malicious, it often presents a friendly rivalry between the two nations
  • Multiculturalism: Since World War Two, multiculturalism has been an important theme. Writers using this theme include Mordecai Richler (known for novels such as The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz), Margaret Laurence, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje -- The English Patient-- and prolific Chinese Canadian writer Wayson Choy.
  • Nature (and a "human vs. nature" tension): Reference to nature is common in Canada's literature. Nature is sometimes portrayed like an enemy, and sometimes like a divine force.
  • Satire and irony: Satire is probably one of the main elements of Canadian literature.
  • Self-deprecation: Another common theme in Canadian literature.
  • Self-evaluation by the reader
  • Search for Self-Identity: Some Canadian novels revolve around the theme of the search for one's identity and the need to justify one's existence. A good example is Robertson Davies's Fifth Business, in which the main character Dunstan Ramsay searches for a new identity by leaving his old town of Deptford.
  • Southern Ontario Gothic: A sub-genre which critiques the stereotypical Protestant mentality of Southern Ontario; many of Canada's most internationally famous authors write in this style.
  • The underdog hero: The most common hero of Canadian literature, an ordinary person who must overcome challenges from a large corporation, a bank, a rich tycoon, a government, a natural disaster, and so on.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Canadian literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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