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The Englishman's Boy

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Spencer Rosner

on 14 April 2010

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Transcript of The Englishman's Boy

Double click anywhere & add an idea Biograhpical Information Born April 5 1951
Received both his Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Arts in
History from the University of Saskatchewan.
In 1973 he was Research Officer, Institute for Northern Studies, University of Saskatchewan.
From 1974 until 1977, he worked as Archival and Library Assistant at the university.
In 1978 he received his Bachelor of Education with great distinction from the University of Regina.
From 1975 to 1977 he was a freelance writer and editor.
In 1978 and 1979 taught English and history at Herbert High School in Herbert, Saskatchewan.
In 1983 and 1984 he was Writer-in-Residence with the Saskatoon Public Library.
In 1985 he was a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Ottawa.
Has been a Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Ottawa (1985-86), faculty member of the Writing Program of the Banff Centre for the Arts (1990-91), faculty member in charge of senior fiction students in the SAGE Hills Creative Writing Program (1992).
Since 1993 he has served as a visiting professor of English at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan.
First book, "Man Descending": selected stories (1982), was winner of a Governor General's Award and the United Kingdom's Faber Prize
The Englishman's Boy (1996), won him a second Governor General's Award for Fiction and the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and for Best Book of the Year, and it was shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Best-known for The Last Crossing (2002), a national bestseller and winner of the Saskatoon Book Award, the Saskatchewan Book Awards for Fiction and for Book of the Year, and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year. The novel was selected for the 2004 edition of Canada Reads as the book that should be read by all Canadians.
In 2003, Vanderhaeghe was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Life Published Works Novels:
My Present Age (1984).
Homesick (1989).
The Englishman's Boy (1996).
The Last Crossing (2002)
Short Stories:
Man Descending (1982).
The Trouble With Heroes (1983).
Things As They Are? (1992).
Dancing Bear
Reunion (1984)
I Had a Job I Liked. Once. (1992).
Dancock's Dance (1996).

Cypress Hill Massacre June 1, 1874, in the Cypress Hills region of Battle Creek, North-West Territories (now in Saskatchewan)
American wolf hunters or 'wolfers', American and Canadian whiskey traders, Métis cargo haulers or 'freighters', and a camp of Nakoda (or Assiniboine) people.
Horses stolen from Wolfers.
Angry Wolfers track thieves into Canada.
Wolfers end up at Battle Creek.
Lots of drinking, a misunderstanding occurs, 23 Nakkoda and a wolfer killed.
Incident outraged Canadians, who wanted Americans to respect their sovereignty; Western Canada was threatened.
Incident lead the North-West Territories government of the day (Temporary North-West Council) to pass legislation advising Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to create the North-West Mounted Police.

Themes of "The Englishman's Boy" Temporal/Spatial Movement:
Three time frames, one century
Problematizes recounting of historical events
Spatial movement: border crossing
Harry Vincent Shorty McAdoo crossing impregnated with significance
Assiniboine crossing stands outside Euro-centric construct of "border"
Actual vs. remembered crossing (narrative embedding)

Centering the Peripheral:
Marginal Characters: Shorty, or the "Englishman's Boy" floats on the periphery of class and society throughout his life.
Shorty as "Jonah" and as "extra"
"Nobody asked my name. I'll tell you who I am. I'm what the black belly of the whale couldn't abide. I'm your Jonah." (306)
Harry as Hollywood outsider, Canadian, crippled by leg and by mother
Propelled by his outsider status to manipulate
"...all along you had no qualms about lying to McAdoo, misleading him. Why? I'll tell you why Harry. Because you have a sick mother in an expensive asylum and I was paying you a lot of money to mislead him." (295)
"Besieged" as a "footnote of history"
Marginal characters involved in marginal movie about a "marginal" event that galvinizes a marginal (or marginalized) country
action on perpiphery of rape: circumvents negative space
Novel refocuses or recenters events
The Wild 'Wood
How the West Was Filmed Juxtaposition of 1920's Hollywood and 1870's Wild West:
Legacy vs Tradition:
Griffith's movies / Hardwick's "Lord's work" (p 45-46)
Legends vs Reputation
Big name movie stars (p 226) / Hardwick's reputation as a "man's man"(p 238)
Jews vs Indians
Chance's antisemetism (p 253) / the wolfers' disdain for Indians
Production Companies vs Trading Companies
Chance men and Metro men / T.C. Power men and I.G. Baker men (p 187)
Writers vs Riders
Harry Vincent / The Englishman's Boy
Historical Accounts vs Historical Actions
"Beseiged" / The Cypress Hill Massacre
"Fattening on the dead": Historiographic Metafiction and the Seduction of the "Surface" Movement from authentic to simulated: actual event to film, Shorty as participant to "extra"
Making profit on the dead: Retroactive exploitation (203)
Accuracy of the "surface" as seductive, (230-231)
Movie costumes and set authentic at the expense of substances
Similar to the way in which we construct history: linear, chronological, synthesized at the expense of the contradictions, complexities that lie underneath
Book as historiographic metafiction, amalgamation of fact and fiction, history and narrative
Plot parallels authorial construct, not organic/mimetic
Agenda of "Englishman's Boy": to highlight the relationshihp between fact/fiction, truth/meaning
Yet does the novel, in its dovetailing of historical fact and constructed fiction, created the glimmer of authenticity like "Besieged"? By arranging and manipulating each of the novel's "moving parts" in a certain order, does the author participate in a similiar truth-claim as his characters? In writing the novel, is Vanderhaeghe "fattening on the dead"?

Other considerations: Harry's move from constructing in Hollywood (America) to passively watching theatre screen (Canada)
The role of the river, with its surface, depth, and constant flow (and its role as delineator of separated/different spaces, ie. the border?)

The Englishman's Boy
by Guy Vanderhaeghe

A Presentation by Francis Xavier Moriarty II and
Spencer Rosner "History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstance...the encounter between character and circumstance is essentially a story." - Donald Creighton
Full transcript