It is only natural that a nascent literature, arising in a young country
which is on every hand surrounded by older civilizations, should, from a
spirit of self-assertion, emphasize those features, conditions, mental
and spiritual attitudes which distinguish its life and ...
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It Needs to be Said

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It is only natural that a nascent literature, arising in a young country
which is on every hand surrounded by older civilizations, should, from a
spirit of self-assertion, emphasize those features, conditions, mental
and spiritual attitudes which distinguish its life and its nationals
from those of other and older countries. The spirit of youth is hope;
its driving force is confidence in its own powers; its reaction to life
is that of an unbounded optimism. This country has a future, a great
future; and whether that future is going to be one of mere wealth, or of
a mere purveyor of raw materials, will depend to a large extent upon
ourselves. Yet, you say, we feel the strength of our muscles, the
vigour of our enterprise: what should spring from it but glory and
prosperity and happiness? We feel competent to cope with any problem. So
long as that spirit, that confidence, that optimism are naive and
unsophisticated, they are perfectly legitimate. But are they? Is there
not a pose in much that is being said along these lines? Is not the
boast of our youth often deliberately assumed to cloak a deplorable

[Footnote 1: Most of the chapters that follow were originally meant to
be delivered as addresses to that certain association. Owing to
circumstances not here relevant, they were not so delivered. The only
reason why that original purpose is mentioned here consists in the
necessity of an explanation of their present form which, at this late
hour, I find myself unable to recast.]

That this is a young country is, of course, perfectly true. Manitoba, my
home province, is, as a political unit, scarcely older than myself. I
know people still living who came to Winnipeg when the present great
city was a village with a handful of inhabitants--a marvel of
development. Even those who may not unreservedly approve of the
direction which this development has taken cannot but admire its
swiftness and resistless strength--in spite of the fact that it is by no
means the first time in the history of colonial settlements that such a
marvel of development has taken place. As I have said, it remains but
natural that this young country should feel like David before the battle
with the Philistine.

But it is also true that, mentally and spiritually, this young nation
forms a mere bud on the larger growth of the great Anglo-Saxon Empire.
Many of us came to this country saturated with the spiritual
achievements of the older parts of that Empire, saturated with the great
British tradition; many others imbued themselves with that tradition as
their true intellectual and spiritual food--by studying its policies,
its thought, and its marvellous literature, unequalled or at least
unexcelled by that of any other of the younger nations of Europe as
opposed to those which we call ancient.

This great Anglo-Saxon tradition forms one of the directing and living
influences at work on our literature in the making. It has this in
common with the other great traditions of Europe that, being born from a
blending of the greatest artistic urge which the world has seen, that of
ancient Greece, with the greatest religious urge which the world has
seen, that of Judah, its aim is still that of a final evaluation of
life; of a recognition of man's true place in nature; of a determination
of the balance, so far attained, between man's beasthood and man's
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013773844
  • Publisher: WDS Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/15/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 81 KB

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