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The Daughter's Way: Canadian Women's Paternal Elegies

The Daughter's Way: Canadian Women's Paternal Elegies

by Tanis MacDonald
The Daughter's Way: Canadian Women's Paternal Elegies

The Daughter's Way: Canadian Women's Paternal Elegies

by Tanis MacDonald


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The Daughter’s Way investigates negotiations of female subjectivity in twentieth-century Canadian women’s elegies with a special emphasis on the father’s death as a literary and political watershed. The book examines the work of Dorothy Livesay, P.K. Page, Jay Macpherson, Margaret Atwood, Kristjana Gunnars, Lola Lemire Tostevin, Anne Carson, and Erin Mouré as elegiac daughteronomies—literary artifacts of mourning that grow from the poets’ investigation into the function and limitations of elegiac convention. Some poets treat the father as a metaphor for socio-political power, while others explore more personal iterations of loss, but all the poets in The Daughter’s Way seek to redefine daughterly duty in a contemporary context by challenging elegiac tradition through questions of genre and gender.

Beginning with psychoanalytical theories of filiation, inheritance, and mourning as they are complicated by feminist challenges to theories of kinship and citizenship, The Daughter’s Way debates the efficacy of the literary “work of mourning” in twentieth-century Canadian poetry. By investigating the way a daughter’s filial piety performs and sometimes reconfigures such work, and situating melancholia as a creative force in women’s elegies, the book considers how elegies inquire into the rhetoric of mourning as it is complicated by father-daughter kinship.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554583621
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Publication date: 05/10/2012
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Tanis MacDonald is an associate professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Rue the Day (Turnstone Press, 2008), and the editor of Speaking of Power: The Poetry of Di Brandt (WLU Press, 2006). Her book The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies was a finalist for the 2012 ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Part 1 The Daughter's Way

Introduction Who Could Not Sing: Elegy and Its (Female) Discontents 3

1 Elegy and Authority: The Daughter's Way 31

Part 2 Daughters of Jove, Daughters of Job Canadian Modernism's Bloody-Minded Women

2 Jove's Daughter: Dorothy Livesay's Elegiac Daughteronomy 55

3 "So Much Militia Routed in the Man": P. K. Page's Military Fathers 77

4 "Absence, Havoc": Jay Macpherson's Rebellious Daughters 95

Part 3 Differently Conceived Nations The Mourner's Journey

5 "Do What You Are Good At": Margaret Atwood's Authorizing Elegies 127

6 The Pilgrim and the Riddle: Anne Carson's "The Anthropology of Water" 151

7 Gateway Politics, Grief Poetics: West Meets West in Kristjana Gunnars's Zero Hour 171

Part 4 Furies and Filles de la Sagesse Language and Difference at Century's End

8 Signature, Inheritance, Inquiry: Lola Lemire Tostevin's Cartouches 187

9 Elegy of Refusal: Erin Mouré's Furious 209

Conclusion: From the Water 235

Works Cited 239

Index 255

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