The search for the 'Great Canadian Novel' has long continued throughout our history. Controversially, to say the least, Gerald Lynch maintains that a version of it may already have been written - as a great Canadian short story cycle. In this unique text, the author launches into a fascinating literary-historical survey and genre study of the English-Canadian short story cycle - the literary form that occupies the middle ground between short stories and vels. This wide-ranging volume has much to say about the continuing relationship between place and identity in Canadian literature and culture. Initially, Lynch employs Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town for illustrative purposes, and begins by discussing two definitive features of short story cycles: the ways in which their form conveys meaning and the paramount function of their concluding stories, which are here called 'return stories.' Lynch then devotes five discrete but related chapters to six Canadian short story cycles, spanning some one hundred years from Duncan Campbell Scott to Thomas King, and tracing some surprising continuities in this distinctive genre. A number of the works are discussed extensively for the first time within the tradition of the Canadian short story cycle, which has never before been accorded book-length study in English. This engaging and intelligent volume will be of interest to the general reader as well as specialists in Canadian literature.
Gerald Lynch is Professor of English at the University of Ottawa. He has published numerous books and essays on Canadian literary subjects, including The One and the Many: English Canadian Short Story Cycles (UTP 2001).