By Graeme Gibson

Solely on hand from Anansi electronic, Communion is likely one of the misplaced, nice works through a Canadian literary titan.

Originally released in 1971, Communion keeps the tale of Felix Oswald that started in 5 Legs. We meet Felix Oswald back, a self-mocking and obsessed hero, a voyeur, and all-time loser, after he graduates from university and accepts a task as a part-time veterinarian’s assistant.

A groundbreaking paintings of experimental fiction, Communion is a must-read for fans of Canadian literature.

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Yet the paradox is that the writer, despite the Introduction 33 inevitable insufficiency of language, is defined by his idiosyncratic use of it, as Mauthner argues: Every distinctive writer can be recognized by his characteristic, individual language, at every step of the way. As with the images of a distinctive painter. 101 In the same year, 1902, Rémy de Gourmont published Le Problème du style. Whilst Gourmont does not develop a philosophy of language à la Mauthner, he views style in similar terms as a distinctive marker of individuality, describing the ‘real problem of style [as] a question of physiology.

123 Valéry is describing here the aestheticism of the finde-siècle, their turn away from scientistic positivism towards questions of aesthetic beauty and ‘pure’ style. One of the aphorisms collected in Tel Quel, first published in 1926, takes a broader historical perspective to make the same point: whilst the style of Racine and La Fontaine always stayed close to the ‘living person’, the early modernists started to look to language itself as the driving-force: Introduction 39 With Mallarmé and certain others, a sort of tendency to non-human, absolute language emerges – language which evokes some kind of independent entity – a god of language – illuminated by the Omnipotence of the Harmony of Words.

Is there nowhere any means to have it stay? 70 Leavis’ comments on the reactions to Hopkins’ poetry of Bridges, Moore and other such writers ‘formed in the last century’ exemplify the incorporation of style into sense, of ‘texture’ into text, that the Modernist movement had brought about. In the manner of Eliot’s essay ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919), one could say that it was no longer a case of the later poet adapting his style to fit a preconceived template, but rather the template having to be revised in the light of the later poet.

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