This month’s Crier theme is “place.” What role does place play in literature? In literary culture? Are books set in other places relevant to the places we live in? The theme has prompted some wonderful material. Andre Forget wrote a great piece last week on the “calcified genre” of CanLit and its residual references to a colonial mindset. Adam Klassen Bartel interviewed John K. Samson on the influence of place in his writing. Samson:
I feel like my favourite fiction writers are all pretty intent on understanding the place they are from. I think of Miriam Toews and Southern Manitoba, I think of Michael Crummey and Newfoundland. I don’t think either of those writers would think of themselves first as Canadian writers. I think they would think of themselves, with pride, as regional ones. Or like, you know, Heather O’Neill and Montreal. I think, perhaps the idea of the Canadian writer is more a marketing term than anything else, frankly.
Would George Eliot have considered herself a British writer, an English writer, or just a “writer”? And how important is place to Middlemarch? I argue that Middlemarch is everywhere, and Eliot’s abstract use of place makes Middlemarch accessible.