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Fiction Literary

The Diviners

by (author) Margaret Laurence

afterword by Timothy Findley

Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Dec 2007
Category
Literary, Classics
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780735252813
    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
    $22.00
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780771034909
    Publish Date
    Dec 2007
    List Price
    $22.95

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Description

The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence’s celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel.

This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process – putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right – relinquished only in her overwhelming need for love. Again and again, Morag is forced to test her strength against the world – and finally achieves the life she had determined would be hers.

The Diviners has been acclaimed by many critics as the outstanding achievement of Margaret Laurence’s writing career. In Morag Gunn, Laurence has created a figure whose experience emerges as that of all dispossessed people in search of their birthright, and one who survives as an inspirational symbol of courage and endurance.

The Diviners received the Governor General’s Award for Fiction for 1974.

About the authors

Margaret Laurence was born in 1926 in Neepawa, Manitoba. She published her first novel, This Side of Jordan (one of several works to be set in Africa), in 1960. The Stone Angel, published in 1964, was her second novel. It was an immediate success, as were her four subsequent Manawaka novels: A Jest of God (which won the 1967 Governor General's Award and was later made into the film Rachel, Rachel), The Fire Dwellers, A Bird in the House, and The Diviners — winner of the 1974 Governor General's Award. In 1971, Laurence was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Remembered also as a peace activist, she died in 1987.

Margaret Laurence's profile page

Timothy Findley (1930-2002) was one of Canada's most compelling and best-loved writers. He is the author of The Wars, which won the Governor General's Award and established him as one of Canada's leading writers, as well as Pilgrim and The Piano Man's Daughter, both finalists for The Giller Prize. His other novels, Headhunter, The Telling Of Lies, The Last Of The Crazy People, The Butterfly Plague, Famous Last Words, Not Wanted On The Voyage, and Spadework; his novella, You Went Away; and his short fiction, Dinner Along The Amazon, Stones, and Dust To Dust, have won numerous awards and are well loved both in Canada and internationally.

Elizabeth Rex won the Governor General's Award for Drama and The Stillborn Lover won a Chalmers Award. His works of non-fiction include Inside Memory and From Stone Orchard.

Timothy Findley was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

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Timothy Findley's profile page

Excerpt: The Diviners (by (author) Margaret Laurence; afterword by Timothy Findley)

The river flowed both ways. The current moved from north to south, but the wind usually came from the south, rippling the bronze-green water in the opposite direction. This apparently impossible contradiction, made apparent and possible, still fascinated Morag, even after the years of river-watching.

The dawn mist had lifted, and the morning air was filled with swallows, darting so low over the river that their wings sometimes brushed the water, then spiralling and pirouetting upward again. Morag watched, trying to avoid thought, but this ploy was not successful.

Pique had gone away. She must have left during the night. She had left a note on the kitchen table, which also served as Morag’s desk, and had stuck the sheet of paper into the typewriter, where Morag would be certain to find it.

Now please do not get all uptight, Ma. I can look after myself. Am going west. Alone, at least for now. If Gord phones, tell him I’ve drowned and gone floating down the river, crowned with algae and dead minnows, like Ophelia.

Well, you had to give the girl some marks for style of writing. Slightly derivative, perhaps, but let it pass. Oh jesus, it was not funny. Pique was eighteen. Only. Not dry behind the ears. Yes, she was, though. If only there hadn’t been that other time when Pique took off, that really bad time. That wouldn’t happen again, not like before. Morag was pretty sure it wouldn’t. Not sure enough, probably.

I’ve got too damn much work in hand to fret over Pique. Lucky me. I’ve got my work to take my mind off my life. At forty-seven that’s not such a terrible state of affairs. If I hadn’t been a writer, I might’ve been a first-rate mess at this point. Don’t knock the trade.

Morag read Pique’s letter again, made coffee and sat looking out at the river, which was moving quietly, its surface wrinkled by the breeze, each crease of water outlined by the sun. Naturally, the river wasn’t wrinkled or creased at all — wrong words, implying something unfluid like skin, something unenduring, prey to age. Left to itself, the river would probably go on like this, flowing deep, for another million or so years. That would not be allowed to happen. In bygone days, Morag had once believed that nothing could be worse than killing a person. Now she perceived river-slaying as something worse. No wonder the kids felt themselves to be children of the apocalypse.

No boats today. Yes, one. Royland was out, fishing for muskie. Seventy-four years old this year, Royland. Eyesight terrible, but he was too stubborn to wear glasses. A marvel that he could go on working. Of course, his work did not depend upon eyesight. Some other kind of sight. A water diviner. Morag always felt she was about to learn something of great significance from him, something which would explain everything. But things remained mysterious, his work, her own, the generations, the river.

Editorial Reviews

“A pleasure to read!…Richly textured, beautifully written.”
The New Yorker

“Leaves us breathless and cheering.”
–Montreal Gazette

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