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The Oxford History of the Novel in EnglishVolume 12: The Novel in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the South Pacific Since 1950$
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Coral Ann Howells, Paul Sharrad, and Gerry Turcotte

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199679775

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199679775.001.0001

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Major Authors: Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje

Major Authors: Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje

Chapter:
(p.329) 21 Major Authors: Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje
Source:
The Oxford History of the Novel in English
Author(s):

Coral Ann Howells

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199679775.003.0024

This chapter discusses the works of three Canadian novelists best known internationally: Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje. The careers of Davies, Atwood, and Ondaatje, although overlapping chronologically, represent distinctive stages in Canada's evolving cultural traditions and publishing practices since the 1950s. Davies's novels signal the first stage in a transition from colonial to postcolonial identity in post-war Canada. Atwood in the 1970s provided the script for a Canadian cultural and literary identity separate from British and American in what Carol Shields called ‘a period of explosive patriotism’. Ondaatje's novels and family memoir epitomize the ‘refocusing and defocusing’ of Canadian literature since the 1980s, coinciding with the nation's shifts into multiculturalism and transnationalism. The chapter first provides a background on Davies, Atwood, and Ondaatje's careers before considering some of their works, including the Deptford trilogy (Davies), The Handmaid's Tale (Atwood), and The English Patient (Ondaatje).

Keywords:   postcolonial identity, Canadian novel, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Canadian literature, Canadian novelists, The English Patient, cultural identity, literary identity

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