Modern Realism in English-Canadian Fiction

Modern Realism in English-Canadian Fiction

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By Colin Hill
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2011
World Rights
304 Pages
ISBN 9781442640566
Published May 2012
Online discount: 25%
 $54.00    $40.50
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442664913
Published May 2012
Online discount: 24%
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Much of the scholarship on twentieth-century Canadian literature has argued that English-Canadian fiction was plagued by backwardness and an inability to engage fully with the movement of modernism that was so prevalent in British and American fiction and poetry. Modern Realism in English-Canadian Fiction re-evaluates Canadian literary culture to posit that it has been misunderstood because it is a distinct genre, a regional form of the larger international modernist movement.

Examining literary magazines, manifestos, archival documents, and major writers such as Frederick Philip Grove, Morley Callaghan, and Raymond Knister, Colin Hill identifies a 'modern realism' that crosses regions as well as urban and rural divides. A bold reading of the modern-realist aesthetic and an articulate challenge to several enduring and limiting myths about Canadian writing, Modern Realism in English- Canadian Fiction will stimulate important debate in literary circles everywhere.

Colin Hill is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto.


  1. The Modern-Realist Movement: Contexts, Aesthetics, Origins
  2. Manifestos for a Modern Realism: Canadian Bookman and The Canadian Forum of the 1920s
  3. Raymond Knister: Revolutionary Modern Realist
  4. The Proliferation of Modern Realism in Canada, Part 1: Prairie Realism Re-evaluated
  5. Frederick Philip Grove’s Eclectic Realism and ‘The Great Tradition’
  6. The Proliferation of Modern Realism in Canada, Part 2: Urban and Social Realism Reclaimed
  7. Morley Callaghan’s Cosmopolitan Modern Realism
  8. Modern Realism and Canadian Literature


A major contribution to research, Modern Realism in English-Canadian Fiction provides a strong analysis of an issue central to twentieth-century Canadian literature: how Canadian writers took up the opportunities and challenges offered by the international modernist movement. Colin Hill's thoughtful, balanced account emphasizes his skills in weighing evidence, teasing out arguments, and anticipating possible rejoinders, as well as his excellent grasp of the period's literature. Whether readers agree with Hill, scholars and students will be citing Modern Realism in English-Canadian Fiction for years to come.

Paul Hjartarson, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta

‘Modern Realism offers a clear and in-depth analysis for anyone seeking access to a new understanding of the genre, and an excellent resource for critics and scholars seeking to discover newly refound examples of modern realist Canadian fiction.’

Marc André Fortin, Canadian Literature issue #218 autumn 2013