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Winter 2021, Breakwater Books

The Quest for a 'National' Nationalism
E.J. Pratt’s Epic Ambition, ‘Race’ Consciousness, and the Contradictions of Canadian Identity
By (author): George Elliott Clarke


Breakwater Books - St. John's



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


Feb 26, 2021
Print Run: 500
$14.95 CAD


7.5in x 4 x 0.25 in | 0.5 kg

Page Count:

64 pages
Breakwater Books Ltd
Breakwater Books
Literature: history and criticism|Literary studies: poetry and poets|Canada
In his 2018 Pratt Lecture, The Quest for a ‘National’ Nationalism, renowned author and critic George Elliott Clarke investigates E.J. Pratt’s poetic attempt to become the epic poet of Canada. And while Pratt’s epic poems, such as Brebeuf and His Brethren and Towards the Last Spike, stand as lofty poetic achievements, the poet is never able to escape his own identity and speak convincingly for all Canadians. Unable to speak for Francophones, Indigenous peoples, and People of Colour, Pratt becomes the epic poet of the establishment, but never truly of the people.

The PRATT LECTURES were established in 1968 to commemorate the legacy of E.J. Pratt. Over the years, the series has hosted a litany of world-renowned authors and scholars, including Northrop Frye, Seamus Heaney, Helen Vendler, and Dionne Brand.

George Elliott Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1960. Educated at the University of Waterloo, Dalhousie, and Queen’s, Clarke is also a pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature. A professor of English at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, UBC, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. He lives in Toronto.

"This is Breakwater’s first published Pratt Lecture, a slim, crisp, pocketful of learned-ness." - Joan Sullivan, The Telegram

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