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Brief Reviews-Non-Fiction4
by Daniel Jones

IN HIS BRIEF introduction to Hugh MacLennan`s Best (McClelland & Stewart, 362 pages, $27.95 cloth), the editor Douglas Gibson concerns himself less with the literary quality of MacLennan`s body of writing than with his "pioneering role in creating a literature that belonged to Canada." MacLennan used his novels as a means of elucidating social and moral issues; few critics have praised his style, which, for the most part, was didactic, heavyhanded, and often laboured. At the time of his death in November of 1990, MacLennan had published seven novels, as well as several essay collections, and longer works of non-fiction. All of MacLennan`s novels are currently available in paperback editions, with the exception of The Precipice, which Gibson admits "has sunk into anonymity, and is little read nowadays." As well as excerpts from all of MacLennan`s novels, Gibson has included numerous essays. Of these, only two do not appear in MacLennan`s selected essays, The Other Side of Hugh MacLennan, first published in 1978 and still in print. Gibson offers only seven pages of previously unpublished material: a paragraph from MacLennan`s 1928 valedictorian speech to Dalhousie University, three early poems, and a final lecture delivered in honour of Margaret Laurence. It is Gibson`s hope that readers "will be inspired to read - or to reread - all of the books briefly represented here." It is more likely that this collection will replace MacLennan`s novels as required reading in secondary and post-secondary classes. If MacLennan`s novels are worth reading and this clearly will be a subject of debate in years to come - surely they should be read in their entirety.

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