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  • Immigrant Memories of Healing: Textual and Pictorial Images in Erika Gottlieb’s Becoming My Mother’s Daughter

    Erika Gottlieb’s narrative is a transgenerational family memoir, a search for identity, and also the testimony of the protagonist Eva Steinbach, the thinly disguised authorial self, a child survivor of the Holocaust in Hungary, which provides a larger historical perspective for the personal narrative written in Canada. The satisfactory completion of the tasks involved in these three strands of Gottlieb’s life writing depends on how successfully memories can be preserved without allowing them to paralyze the remembering subject. Since these three themes are inseparable from each other, they can only result in self-understanding and healing for the author/protagonist if they evolve together. At the same time, Gottlieb’s narrative is intricately linked to her artwork, which calls for an intermedial discussion of the book to reveal how the graphic images further enhance the protagonist’s struggle to comprehend herself. While the multi-layered text is constructed in a non-linear structure, the sketches and paintings incorporated in it are employed to fulfill various functions. They serve both as illustrations of characters and locations at times, while on other occasions they are made to serve as structural devices. When describing or representing existing artwork, the text also turns into ekphrastic writing at certain points, thus multiplying the interpretative possibilities opened up and the aesthetic impressions created. (MP)

  • A Train to Castle Von Aux: Patrick deWitt’s Fiction and the Transnational Paradigm

    While deWitt’s writing enjoys commercial and critical success, it has inspired very little academic scrutiny. This is perhaps due to deWitt’s avoidance of Canadian settings and themes in favor of motifs from American popular culture or European folktales. Just as The Sisters Brothers (2011) relied on deWitt’s ironic use of the Western formula, so Undermajordomo Minor (2015) constitutes a playful attempt at rejuvenating several tired genres. In the story of young Lucy Minor’s acquisition of a dubious post at the eerie Castle Von Aux there are unmistakable elements of the Gothic romance, the fable, and the Bildungsroman, all spiced up with a quirky cinematic aesthetic. Equally strong are the echoes of Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, Kafka’s The Castle, and Bernhard’s Gargoyles, themselves richly interconnected. Through these diverse allusions and a curious blurring of geographical and historical boundaries, deWitt creates transgeneric fiction, which may be understood as transnational in the sense assumed by Kit Dobson or Peter Morgan.

  • Collage Was Never Gone

    Book review:

    Drąg, Wojciech. Collage in Twenty-First-Century Literature in English: Art of Crisis. New York and London: Routledge, 2019. 216 pages. ISBN 9780367437428. Hb. £120.00.