All the Polarities: Comparative Studies in Contemporary Canadian Novels in French and English


109 pages
ISBN 0-990003-04-9





Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto broadcaster and public relations


Philip Stratford, professor of literature at l’Université de Montréal, takes a most refreshing and challenging approach to the study of French and English Canadian fiction. In All the Polarities, he discusses the development of the two forms of literature as parallel: “parallel lines never meet” but “they determine each other.”

Since early Canadian literature in both languages was “colonial,” “documentary in nature” and “heavily dependent on Old World models,” Stratford dates the beginning of a “significant and autonomous Canadian literature” in either language as occurring at the end of the Second World War.

Stratford’s mode of analysis pairs novelists and novels of similar genres, one French, one English, in order to analyze their similarities and differences in theme, style, setting, social impact and character development. Among the pairings are Hugh MacLennan and Gabrielle Roy; Margaret Laurence and Anne Hébert; Alice Munro and Marie-Claire Blais; Margaret Atwood and Hubert Aquin. Stratford makes his comparisons with care, thorough knowledge of his material, and deep affection. He inspires the reader to absorb information while encouraging further study and exploration. He writes with sophisticated ease satisfying layman, student, and scholar.

All the Polarities is an excellent introduction to the vast world of contemporary French and English Canadian literature for the uninitiated. It also serves as a most valuable and thought-provoking document for the converted.


Stratford, Philip, “All the Polarities: Comparative Studies in Contemporary Canadian Novels in French and English,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,