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Margaret Laurence (1926–1987)

Författare till The Stone Angel

26+ verk 5,226 medlemmar 115 recensioner 37 favoritmärkta

Om författaren

Canadian author Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss in Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada, on July 18, 1926. She attended United College (now the University of Winnipeg), receiving her B.A. in 1947. Shortly after graduation, she married Jack Laurence, a hydraulic engineer whose job would often visa mer take them overseas; the Laurences lived in England for a year, moved to British Somaliland in 1950, and then to Ghana in 1952. It was in Africa that Laurence wrote her first book, A Tree for Poverty, which was a translation of Somali poetry and stories. She also wrote about her experiences in Somaliland in a travel memoir, The Prophet's Camel Bell, and used Africa as a setting for her first fictional work, a novel called This Side Jordan, and a collection of short stories, The Tomorrow Tamers. This Side Jordan received the 1961 Beta Sigma Phi Award for the best first novel by a Canadian. Laurence is best known, however, for her Manawaka books, which are set in Canada. They include The Stone Angel, The Fire Dwellers House, A Bird in the House, A Jest of God, and The Diviners. The latter two books both received the Governor General's Award, in 1967 and 1975, respectively. After living in Africa, England, and several other countries for many years, Laurence returned to Canada in 1974, settling in Lakefield, Ontario, where she remained until her death in 1987. The Energy Probe Research Foundation, an environmental organization for which she served as one of the directors, now sponsors the Margaret Laurence Fund for projects related to the environment and peace, areas in which Laurence was very active during the last decade of her life. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre
Foto taget av: Peter Esterhazy, with kind permission of the Estate of Margaret Laurence.


Verk av Margaret Laurence

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Allmänna fakta



Group Read, January 2020: The Diviners i 1001 Books to read before you die (februari 2020)
June Read: Margaret Laurence i Virago Modern Classics (juli 2017)


Why is it that those teaching high school and undergraduate English literature courses persist in assigning Margaret Laurence? Do they want to instil a lifetime aversion to her works?

Luckily for me, Can Lit was never on any curriculum in my studies. Reading The Stone Angel, I was really glad I hadn't read it earlier in life, as much of the novel would have escaped me. I would never have realized the sheer devastation of it all, and how deftly Laurence portrays it.

The very first sentence speaks of a stone angel high above the town, the monument young Hagar Currie's father had had erected to his wife after she died giving birth to Hagar. Thereafter, the angel is always described as marble. It is Hagar who is the woman of stone, unmoving and unable to see the devastation she wreaks around her. It was not until after her adult son's death that she finally realized it. The night my son died I was transformed to stone.

Like a stone angel, Hagar is unyielding. Yet at the same time she was so afraid of others in that "What will the neighbours think?" way. Like the angel, she is unseeing, not recognizing the need of others for love and approval. Her young son Marvin would linger at the kitchen door each evening with his refrain of "I've finished the chores", only to be shooed away. His younger brother John lied to her to please and deceive her, going so far as to invent respectable imaginary friends. Her husband Bram never heard an "I love you", and never knew how much she actually enjoyed sex with him.

The reader only gets to know Hagar through her own words. Now ninety and dementing, she is on the one hand an unreliable narrator, while at the same time completely credible as she reveals herself. Querulous, lacking in empathy, and very strong willed, she insists on remaining with her son and daughter-in-law when they themselves are in failing health.

Hospitalized after a defiant episode, Hagar, a non believer, found herself trapped into a visit from a minister. As he sang a hymn to her about rejoicing, the need to rejoice came to her as a revelation.When did I ever speak the heart's truth?
Pride was my wilderness and the demon that led me there was fear. I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains with me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched.

Still, nothing changed. There is no sappy ending. That is not Margaret Laurence's style. Hagar may have been granted a moment of insight, but she dismissed it immediately, afraid yet again to examine her life.

Laurence wrote The Stone Angel when she was in her mid thirties. It is an astonishing insight into a character decades older. She feared her publisher would not accept the novel; ninety year old unsympathetic protagonists are a hard sell.

Writing to her good friend Adele Wiseman, with her thoughts about her novel, she quoted Martin Luther: Here I stand; God help me, I can do no other.

She may have been thinking of herself, but she managed to sum up Hagar completely.
… (mer)
SassyLassy | 42 andra recensioner | Nov 15, 2023 |



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