The Anthology Anthology: A Selection from 30 Years of CBC Radio's "Anthology"


206 pages
ISBN 0-7715-9822-X




Edited by Robert Weaver
Reviewed by Kathryn Chittick

Kathryn Chittick taught in the Department of English at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.


The dustjacket for this book declares the importance of Anthology in developing “a full-fledged modern literary culture in Canada,” and says that these selections will be “enjoyed by anyone interested in the finest contemporary Canadian writing.” It is all true.

The coming-of-age of Canadian writing, of course, has coincided — and perhaps more — with the thirty years of Anthology so far. “Contemporary” includes much that now begins to seem long ago. Among other things, it is good to be reminded once more of Nathan Cohen and of how much his critical presence meant through many years of comparative barrenness. His criticism gave an air of real significance to the Canadian cultural scene that a plethora of academic critics since has not. It is of interest to note that Weaver chose to reprint Cohen’s interview with an English author, Joyce Cary; in so doing, Weaver has also chosen to assert that the identity or strength of whatever is Canadian about these selections does not rest upon that wooden leg of Canadian content. Thus, Norman Levine writes about a writer living in England. Bill Schermbrucker about a life lived near the equator, Callaghan talks about a South American writer, and Matt Cohen’s story is set in Europe. For all that Weaver has fostered a sense of culture we call Canadian, he is obviously far from pious about literary nationalism.

It is also good to see that he has not been exclusive in his notions of “literature.” The anthology includes a conversation between Robert Fulford and Northrop Frye, in addition to the one between Cohen and Cary, and a couple of memoirs, as well as short stories, poems, and even a verse drama. One would have to say that the writers included are more remarkable for their differences than for their likenesses. The alternation of pace from one selection to the next is admirably judged.

One begins by shuddering to think of the difficulty of choosing among thirty years of programmes and authors — but in the end the reader is impressed by the sense of ease and delight in it all. This book succeeds, Weaver has succeeded, in showing that Canadian literature has — that most surprising of things — a capacity to charm.



“The Anthology Anthology: A Selection from 30 Years of CBC Radio's "Anthology",” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,