Art in Sinclair Ross's 'As for Me and My House' and Lorna Crozier's 'A Saving Grace'
by Anna Winkelmann
Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,7, University of Cologne (Englisches Seminar), course: The Great Depression in American and Canadian Literature, 21 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Since its reprint in 1957 Sinclair Ross's As for Me and My House has been considered to be one of Canada's most important literary works and has been honoured with great attention amongst numerous critics. The discussion ranges from gay / lesbian approaches over biographical comparisons of the characters with historical figures to psychoanalytical approaches to the protagonists' personalities. The subjective point of view of the fictional diary of Mrs. Bentley has always been an obstacle for the critics. As the diarist she slips into the roles of author, actor and reader, which leads to a constant shifting of her position as subject, object, observer, or third person. John H. Ferres has pointed out three capital themes in Sinclair Ross's works, which are of special relevance for As for Me and My House: the difficulty of communication, the strive for authenticity and the struggle against the harsh Canadian prairie. Being categorized as a 'Künstlerroman', artistic expression of any kind plays a major role in the novel. Thus, art is also functioning as a medium for the expression of the characters' personalities, for coping with the hostile natural environment and finally for the constant try to carry their inner concerns outside. Based on As For Me and My House the volume of poems by Lorna Crozier, named A Saving Grace give further insights into Mrs. Bentley' nature. The poems pick up the topics of Mrs. Bentley's diary as a kind of fictional continuation in the form of very personal and intimate poems dealing with the same themes of nature, art and communication. This essay will discuss the relevance of the three mentioned themes and their reappearing in the different art genres treated in the texts, especially writing, painting and music. It will focus on the way in which art is used as a medium of expression and how it distinguishes the characters from each other. Three poems from Crozier's volume, each dealing with one of the three main genres, will give further insight into these aspects. Following this the essay will examine the presence of nature in the characters' lives and artworks, and its significance for their state of minds. Three further poems revolving around the weather and the landscape will illustrate this additionally. The last point will examine the verbal and non-verbal forms of communication established by the characters. Again the attention lies on the importance of art, here functioning as a medium for communication.