A rose in sawdust : the theme of engagement in the novels of Morley Callaghan and Robert Charbonneau and other Canadian writers
O'Connor, John Joseph William
This thesis is principally a study of one theme - engagement - in sixteen Canadian novels of the Twentieth Century. Eight contemporary novelists are represented, four of whom have written in French and four in English. Two of these, Morley Callaghan and Robert Charbonneau, are considered in depth. Our point of departure in the "Preface" is a selection from an ode by John Keats, which reflects a special aspect of the problem of non-commitment: the tension between art and life. This excerpt is followed by general reflections on the question of involvement as it relates to twentieth-century life, especially since 1930. Such a consideration leads us directly to the "Introduction," which has a threefold purpose: to give a detailed synopsis of the philosophy of Jacques Maritain; secondly, to trace the extent of this philosopher's influence on both Callaghan and Charbonneau, with particular reference to their common attitudes to the theme of engagement ; and thirdly, to explain in detail the beliefs of these two authors on this theme. In Chapters II, III and IV we move into direct examination of this concern as it is handled in relevant Works by the eight novelists, beginning with the startling and extensive similarities between Callaghan's They Shall Inherit the Earth and Charbonneau's Ils Posséderont la Terre. Chapter III examines eight other novels by the two authors. Following this, Chapter IV adds a necessary dimension and perspective to the study, by showing that Callaghan and Charbonneau are not alone in examining the theme of engagement. After analyzing six additional Canadian novels, we realize that many other writers in this country have been thinking in similar terms, albeit independently. Finally, the "Conclusion" considers the folly of Keats' flight of fancy, and indicates that these eight novelists share Maritain's optimism and his belief that realistic involvement out of love is the answer to the dilemma of twentieth-century life.