23/09/2012 by funnomad
The Wrong World: Selected Stories and Essays of Bertram Brooker. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009.
Bertram Brooker won the country’s first Governor General’s Award for literature in 1936 for his novel Think of the Earth, and his explosive, experimental paintings hang in every major gallery in the country. He was Canada’s first multidisciplinary avantgardist, successfully experimenting in literature, visual arts, film, and theatre. Brooker brought all of his experimental ambitions to his short fiction and prose. The Wrong World presents a rich sampling of his prose work, much of it previously unpublished, which adds new insight into his aesthetic ambitions.
Working during an incredible period of transition in Canadian society, Brooker’s stories document Canada’s evolution from a provincial colony into a modern, urban country. His essays participated in that evolution by advocating a passionate awakening of the arts, the end of prudish sentiment and censorship, and a radical rethinking of the nature of war. They capture the limitations and hypocrisies of the Canadian social contract and argue for a more just and spiritual society. His stories humanize his social vision by dramatizing the psychological and emotional cost of Canada’s transition into a modern civilization. In turn devastating, penetrating and poignant, Brooker’s prose works offer a sharply focussed window into the turbulent interwar years in Canada.
“Betts has done a great service to the study of modernism in Canada by recovering and arranging these texts. This collection has great pedagogical potential and can contribute much to a rethinking of how modernism is taught in Canada. Part of the text’s usefulness for teaching is its accompanying website (www.press.uottawa.ca) which contains supplementary material such as biographical information, essays and short stories that are not included in the collection, and study questions for the texts that are included. The strength of this collection lies in the fact that it is geared to help both literary scholars do the work of reconnaissance that Ian McKay advocates and that is so important for the study of modernism in Canada while it also facilitates the ability of a new generation of students to do that same work.” Bart Vartour, Canadian Literature