Norman Duncan : a critical biography

Miller, Elizabeth Anne (1987) Norman Duncan : a critical biography. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Norman Duncan (1871-1916) was a prolific writer, having published over 140 periodical stories and articles as well as 20 books. Though he was born in Canada, he did all of his writing and publishing in the United States. In his day he was heralded as one of the most promising authors on the literary horizon. Yet, with the exception of very brief references, he has been virtually ignored by critics. Only one biography of any significance has been undertaken, while no sustained critical assessment has appeared. The purpose of this dissertation is to present a combined biographical and critical study of this neglected Canadian writer. -- It is impossible to separate Duncan the man from Duncan the writer. Many of the themes of his stories — importance of family, idealization of masculine heroes, fondness for boys, obsession with sin and redemption, and concern for alcoholics — have their genesis in his own life. The peak of his literary achievement came early, with the publication in 1903 of his second collection of short stories, The Way of the Sea. After that date, even though he did produce a number of fine essays on Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the occasional short story of merit, there was an uneven quality in his work. Though he expanded his subject matter considerably, primarily as the result of travel, he never surpassed the level of intensity and the perfection of form that he achieved in the early Newfoundland works. -- Although one can detect strong influences of Dickens in Duncan's fiction, he is part of the tradition of the American local color movement and its Canadian counterpart, regional fiction. His success is due in no small part to the fact that he found a region virtually unexplored in literature, and made it his own. Over half his total literary production is rooted in his experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador. Certainly his best work comes from this group, ensuring him a permanent place in the literary history of Newfoundland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5440
Item ID: 5440
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [286]-325.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1987
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Duncan, Norman, 1871-1916; Duncan, Norman, 1871-1916--Criticism, Textual

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