Morley Callaghan: Literary Anarchist


131 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55022-185-X
DDC C813'.52






Reviewed by Thomas M.F. Gerry

Thomas M.F. Gerry is a professor of English at Laurentian University.


This chronologically organized biography emphasizes Callaghan’s
interactions with European, American, and Canadian cultural figures.
Boire retells the story of the famous July 1929 boxing match in Paris,
during which Callaghan knocked down Hemingway. For Boire, this event is
deeply symbolic, representing Callaghan’s anarchist stance in all
aspects of his life (family life excepted), his rejection of all
external influences—whether European, American, or Canadian—in favor
of his own individual style and subject matter. The biographer extends
the pugilistic metaphor to the experience of reading Callaghan’s
works: “The writer must force the reader to struggle uncomfortably”
is how he summarizes Callaghan’s view of the literary experience.

Boire describes his biography as “an initial attempt to trace only
some of the intellectual lineaments that made up [Callaghan’s]
literary and personal anarchism.” The book succeeds in fulfilling its
modest mandate.


Boire, Gary., “Morley Callaghan: Literary Anarchist,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,