Treason of the Intellectuals English Canada in the Post-Modern Period


192 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-921842-45-7
DDC 971.064




Reviewed by R. Douglas Francis

R. Douglas Francis is a professor of history at the University of


In The Struggle for Canadian Universities (1969), Robin Mathews and
James Steele railed against the dominance of American professors in
Canadian universities. In this solo effort, Mathews rails against what
he calls the “treason of [Canadian] intellectuals.” As he sees it,
intellectuals in this country have sold their birthright for a taste of
American culture.

Who are these intellectuals? Mathews is not averse to naming names. In
the field of Canadian literature, they include such well-known literary
critics as Northrop Frye, Frank Davey, and Linda Hutcheon—all of whom,
Mathews argues, introduced postmodernist theory into the field so as to
discredit and undermine the study of Canadian literature as a field in
and of itself. Elsewhere, historian Jack Granatstein is attacked for his
failure to alert Canadian history students to the negative effects of
U.S. imperialism. William Thorsell, editor-in-chief of The Globe and
Mail, is the designated target in the field of journalism. Most
mystifying of all are the parallels Mathews draws between
English-Canadian intellectuals and Martin Heidegger. The analogy does
not hold water, and the reader is left to ponder what exactly Heidegger
has to do with Canadian thought.

Like that other Canadian iconoclast George P. Grant, Mathews believes
that Canadians have worshipped a false god; Grant called that god
American liberalism and technology—Mathews calls it American
individualism and “thug capitalism.” In fact, Mathews is guilty of
the same superficiality he perceives in his opponents. For a book that
purports to be a study of Canadian thought, Treason of the Intellectuals
contains a paucity of thought and an abundance of diatribe.


Mathews, Robin., “Treason of the Intellectuals English Canada in the Post-Modern Period,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,