"Only an artist can measure up to such a place": place and identity in contemporary Newfoundland fiction

Chafe, Paul (2008) "Only an artist can measure up to such a place": place and identity in contemporary Newfoundland fiction. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis is an examination often novels at the centre of the recent surge of artistic and literary production in Newfoundland. This rise is not only one of quantity but quality as well, as evidenced by the numerous national and international nominations and rewards garnered by these texts and the ever-expanding audience they attract both within and without Newfoundland. Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Shipping News (1993) placed Newfoundland in a wider public consciousness as a harsh, unforgiving environment that paradoxically provides a nurturing and purifying home for the world-weary visitor. Reviews of Proulx's novel and the subsequent work of Newfoundland novelists like Wayne Johnston, Michael Crummey, and Lisa Moore have invariably included comments on the rugged yet beautiful landscape and its relationship to the hardy, joyful (and perhaps somewhat backward) people who occupy it. -- The encompassing notion espoused by Newfoundland's burgeoning tourism industry of an unspoiled land loved and worked by a tenacious people is both compounded and confronted by the literature produced since the publication of The Shipping News. This thesis will examine how the authors of these works present Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders by focusing primarily on the characters and their relation to place. -- Ideas central to postcolonial theory can be seen throughout the text as several of the protagonists are examined as postcolonial subjects striving for a notion of "home" on an island that continually changes identity. Patrick Kavanagh's Gaff Topsails, which tries to establish a physical and even erotic connection between its characters and the land, is examined through an ecocritical lens. The examination of Edward Riche's Rare Birds relies heavily on recent touristic discourse, while the analyses of the urban novels by Moore, Michael Winter, Paul Bowdring, and Kenneth J. Harvey use Walter Benjamin's flâneur and scholarly investigations of urban literature to investigate the fraying connection between these metropolitan protagonists and their island. Always paramount throughout this thesis is the examination of Newfoundland identities presented by these authors as extensions of a foundational, mythologized and troubled relationship with the land.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9227
Item ID: 9227
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 386-397)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Bowdring, Paul; Crummey, Michael, 1965-; Harvey, Kenneth J.; Johnston, Wayne, 1958-; Kavanagh, Patrick, 1950--- Gaff topsails; Moore, Lisa, 1964-; Proulx, Annie--Shipping news; Riche, Edward--Rare birds; Winter, Michael, 1965-; Newfoundland and Labrador--Description and travel; Newfoundland and Labrador--In literature

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