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Fiction Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

Invention of the World, The

by (author) Jack Hodgins

Ronsdale Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2010
Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Dystopian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2010
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2010
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11


Jack Hodgins begins The Invention of the World with a ferry worker waving you aboard a ship that will take you not only to Vancouver Island but into a world of magic. The far west coast of Canada has always been regarded as a “land’s end” where the eccentrics of the world come to plot out the last best utopia. Hodgins both invents a world and shows how we continually invent that world in all its multiplicity.

Past and present intermingle while hilarious farce rubs up against epic tragedy. Intertwined are a love story, a portrait of a nineteenth-century village, a clash between wild loggers and weight-watching town folk who have to wear a pig when they fail to meet their weight goals. Pagan myths rub shoulders with the harsh pioneer days of the British Columbia rainforest.

As always with Hodgins, this novel is based on the portrayal of character. At the centre of the mystery is Donal Keneally, the mad Irish messiah who eighty years ago persuaded an entire Irish village to emigrate to Canada, there to become his slaves in the Revelations Colony of Truth. His heir is Maggie Kyle along with her collection of boarders in the old Colony of Truth building. Here truly is a novel that is itself an invention of the world.

About the author

Jack Hodgins was raised in Merville, on Vancouver Island, and graduated from the University of British Columbia. Until recently, he taught fiction writing at the University of Victoria. His novels and story collections include: Spit Delaney’s Island, The Invention of the World, Innocent Cities, Broken Ground, Distance, and Damage Done by the Storm. In the spring of 2010, he published his newest novel, The Master of Happy Endings (Thomas Allen). A Passion for Narrative (a guide to writing fiction) is used in classrooms and writing groups across Canada and Australia. Hodgins’ fiction has won the Governor General’s Award, the Canada-Australia Prize, the Commonwealth Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, amongst others. He has given readings, talks, and workshops in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and several European countries, and has taught an annual fiction workshop in Mallorca, Spain. In 2006 he received both the Terasen Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence in British Columbia. In 2009 the Governor General appointed him a Member of the Order of Canada. He and his wife Dianne have three grown children and three grandchildren. Jack Hodgins’ website is

Jack Hodgins' profile page


  • Winner, Gibson's First Novel Award

Editorial Reviews

“A major and memorable achievement.” —Vancouver Sun

“A major and memorable achievement.” — Vancouver Sun

Librarian Reviews

The Invention of the World

This novel, originally published in 1977, bridges the past and present fictive worlds of a Vancouver Island colony. The Irish origins and Celtic backgrounds of many of its inhabitants offer an intriguing chronicle and critique of those who leave one form of servitude to an oppressive master in their homeland only to relinquish their hoped-for freedom to another oppressive master in their new land. The story, with all of its scandals and scuttlebutt, is told from the perspective of larger than life characters such as the recorder of the “history” of the Revelations Colony of Truth, Strabo Becker, and the colony’s oligarchic and tragic leadership in the person of Donal Keneally (the off-spring of a bull-god) and his several wives. The story culminates in the world of the 20th century’s last quarter.

Caution: Some coarse language. There are references to Haida slave raids.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2010-2011.

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