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Landscapes of War and Memory

The Two World Wars in Canadian Literature and the Arts, 1977 to 2007

Sherrill Grace

Canadian Studies, Literary Criticism and Theory, Performance Studies

Published: October 2014
ISBN: 9781772120004
Pages: 600 Size: 6x9
Illustrations: 30

That Canada remains a society haunted by its war history seems clear...."

Since 1977, a new generation of Canadian writers and artists has been mapping the cultural landscapes formed by the memories of war we have inherited, and also the ones we are expected to forget. Challenging, even painful, the art and literature in Grace’s magisterial study build causeways into history, connecting us to trials and traumas many Canadians have never known but that haunt society in subtle and compelling ways. A contemporary scholar of the period under examination, Grace exemplifies her role as witness, investing the text with personal, often lyrical, responses as a way of enacting this crucial memory work. This comprehensive study is intended for Canadians, scholars, and students interested in literature, theatre, and art relating to memories of the world wars.

Sherrill Grace, OC, holds the title of University Killam Professor at the University of British Columbia, where she has taught Canadian Literature and Culture for more than 35 years. She is also Professor of English, Distinguished University Scholar, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Sherrill Grace’s Landscapes of War is a passionate call for general readers to know these two devastating wars and to know them deeply, and for educators to give them greater prominence when we teach twentieth-century Canadian literary and cultural history. This voluminous study is noteworthy for its generic sweep; Grace, a literary scholar, also traces visual artists’ and filmmakers’ responses to the wars... This is a hybrid text in other ways; its implied audience is wider than its academic publishing venue—the University of Alberta Press—might suggest. Much of the text is devoted to plot/content summary of the many works that Grace considers, and while one might wish for a greater critical analysis-to-summary ratio, I think that this decision to describe the works in generous detail is directly related to the more public position that Grace has taken up.... And herein lies a key value of Landscapes of War and Memory: modelling for national subjects how to navigate through the 'Heritage-Minute' haze of emotional militarism to find what—and who—these accounts have forgotten.

– Lorraine York, Canadian Literature

Remembering and forgetting are given equal focus as Grace encourages the reader to engage with the past and to consider the question posed by Frederick Varley in his famous painting of 1918, For What?.... Landscapes of War and Memory is intended for scholars, students, and all interested in literature, theatre, and art that addresses the memories of the two world wars. Elegantly written, beautifully illustrated, with copious notes and a detailed bibliography, Grace’s comprehensive study is a scholarly achievement of considerable magnitude.

– Jane Mattison Ekstam, British Journal of Canadian Studies