Canadian Literature : The Canadian Fiction Essay

Canadian Literature : The Canadian Fiction Essay

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Though the term Canadian Literature typically refers to a canon of works selected to represent what has become Canadian culture over the course of the country’s young history, the Canadian story has existed long before there existed a canon. Thus the Canadian myth is of equal importance to the Canadian literary identity as the literature chosen to be a part of the Canadian literary canon. But how does Canadian mythology contribute to the literary landscape when so little of is has been written down? The Oxford English dictionary defines mythopoeia as the creation of myths. Mythopoeia allows for the creation of myths, while always knowing that the myths being created are fictional, and allows for the formation of a history. The character of Jack Denham in the novel sums this up with the quotation, “Not that I feel any responsibility to Tay John, nor to his story. No, not at all. His story, such as it is, like himself, would have existed independently of me…every story only waits, like a mountain in an untraveled land, for someone to come close, to gaze upon it, and relate it to the known world. Indeed, to tell a story is to leave most of it untold. You mine it, as you take ore from the mountain.” (125) He relates to us that Canada has a rich history of storytelling and legend, and whether or not we pass these tales along has no effect on the truth of the history. In the novel Tay John, Howard O’Hagan uses legends, hearsay, and history to argue that the Canadian mythological identity is the result of cultures battling for relevance in a young literary landscape. The author uses the repetition of different versions of Tay John’s birth as a metaphor to show that two cultures have combined to create a literary landscape, which is the c...


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...ke this echo, the stories told to us reverberate differently as time goes on. The stories are distorted and changed, and interpreted differently with each new generation to hear the story. If stories are ore that must be mined from the mountain of history, then the ore is the building stones we use to build a bridge into our own history. “Part of the strength of Canadian literature may lie in the fact that it bridges the gap between the known and the unknown” (Chorny). In this way, Tay John serves the purpose of showing us a rich mythological history that can only be shared by storytelling, but that: “These men are separate from the source of power. They may eat off the table which has soaked up Tay John 's blood but they get no closer” (Ondaatje). Our stories are but mere glimpses into our past, and the smallest windows into what has become our identity as a nation.

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