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From the archives

Paper Rout

Postmedia in the gutter

Past Trauma

Richard Wagamese and an Indigenous literary resurgence

Family Pride

Profiles in gay life

Dennis Duffy

Dennis Duffy has been reviewing books in various Toronto media outlets for more than fifty years. He also delivers occasional art talks at the Toronto Public Library.

Articles by
Dennis Duffy

‘The sly and cunning masquerade’

A brief history of literary fakes October 2018
Things can get complex when you are considering the relationship between life and art within the pages of a novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby is actually a self-made man who has refined himself from the lowly Jimmy Gatz into the figure whose distinguished family hailed from San Francisco. At one point in his career, Gatz/Gatsby appeared in a photo with the Earl of…

A Sociology of CanLit

Readers, writers, and the future of our literature October 2017
  I. THEN When you look through a peephole into the past, you hope for a clear view, but more often than not what you get is a kaleidoscopic vision. Little pieces, multifaceted and multicolored, that fit together to make a knowable pattern… —Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Six Encounters with Lincoln   We can find one such small kaleidoscopic bead when we consider the career of Alicia…

The Robber Baron of Canadian Literature

An essay on L.C. Page April 2004
Any recognition of distinguished disservice to Canadian literature must highlight American publisher Lewis Coues Page (1869–1956). Only a tenured professor or two of my acquaintance has exhibited greater staying power when it comes to punishing Canadian writers, and Page wielded his cudgel while his victims were alive. From the historical novelist William Kirby (The Golden Dog) to Canada’s best-loved juvenile writer Lucy Maud Montgomery…

CanLit Globalized

Do books born in the wrong place get left out of the canon? November 2005

Tight Boots and War Crimes

A year’s reflection on the War of 1812, in public and in private October 2012
It is 1882, and Egerton Ryerson, who shaped Ontario’s system of public education as no other individual before or since, speaks to a patriotic gathering at the Bay of Quinte. They have assembled to commemorate the centennial of the arrival of exiled United Empire Loyalists there. His lengthy address winds its way to the subject of…

Proving Its Worth

In the age of Google, what does a new reference book have to offer? November 2010

Lincoln’s Prophet

Prose portrait of a narcissistic mystic July–August 2010
Gertrude Stein’s definitive skewering of Ezra Pound—“He was a village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not”—applies to an earlier American epic poet as well. The Walt Whitman of this novel (Pound would claim imaginative kinship with him in 1916) was trafficking in the same line of goods—the egotistical sublime—a few decades…

A Culture Builder

A lively memoir revisits the birth of the Royal Ontario Museum. December 2007

Making Connections

We created Canada by imposing ourselves on nature, not by contemplating it. June 2006