Canadian Writers and Their Works; Fiction Series, Volume Five


329 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920802-90-7





Edited by Robert Lecker, Jack David, and Ellen Quigley
Reviewed by Carl Spadoni

Carl Spadoni was Research Collections Librarian at the Mills Library, McMaster University, Hamilton.


Canadian Writers and Their Works (CWTW) is the generic title of two series of critical essays in the process of being published by ECW Press. One series concerns poetry and the other fiction. Each is scheduled to consist of ten volumes devoted to the literary work of Canadian writers over the last two centuries. The volume under review contains five essays on five major poets as well as an introduction by the prolific George Woodcock. The poets are Earle Birney, Louis Dudek, Irving Layton, Raymond Souster, and Miriam Waddington, and the essayists are respectively Peter Aichinger, Terry Goldie, Wynne Francis, Bruce Whiteman, and Peter Stevens.

The essayists, it should be pointed out, are eminently qualified to discuss these poets. Aichinger is noted for his book on Birney in the Twayne’s World Author Series. Goldie completed his M.A. thesis on Dudek at Carleton in 1975. In addition to editing and prefacing several of Layton’s books, Francis has written important articles on Layton. In 1984 Oberon Press published Whiteman’s descriptive bibliography of Souster as one of the volumes of the Collected Poems of Raymond Souster. Stevens has written extensively on Canadian poetry.

The essays are models of clarity, organization, and scholarship. Regrettably, they cannot be regarded as definitive pieces because all five poets are still alive and writing. Nevertheless, the reader obtains biographical information, literary background, discussion of secondary sources, analysis of the poet’s work, and bibliographies. In his introduction Woodcock skillfully relates the work of these poets in terms of the modernist movement that irrevocably changed the style and flavour of Canadian poetry in the 1940s. If this volume can be singled out as a representative product of CWTW, then a university library or a large public library would be wise to place a standing order for the anticipated 20 volumes.


“Canadian Writers and Their Works; Fiction Series, Volume Five,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,