Independent scholar Paul Comeau's purgatorial perspective in Margaret Laurence's Epic Imagination (University of Alberta Press, 2005) has been described by David Stouck as the first critical study of Laurence in more than twenty years to look at her entire oeuvre. Comeau, as the head of English at Windermere Secondary in Vancouver, describes how Laurence turned to the epic mode to create her master narratives of loss, exile, and redemption. He cites the integral importance of the Bible, Dante and Milton's Paradise Lost, a work that Laurence evidently read before and during the composition of every novel. "Of the Old Testament passages that affected her," he writes, "the one that imprinted itself most profoundly upon her psyche was the Exodus verse--'Alas, thou shalt not oppress the stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." Comeau's perspective is enhanced by his own distant Métis heritage. "Laurence's creation of Canadian epic," he writes, "served to locate my fragmented awareness of personal ancestry within a more comprehensive framework of cultural achievement and identity."


Comeau, Paul. Margaret Laurence's Epic Imagination (University of Alberta Press 2005) $34.95 0-88864-451-5.

[BCBW 2006] "Literary Criticism" "Métis"