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Biography & Autobiography Literary

The Force of Vocation

The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman

by (author) Ruth Panofsky

University of Manitoba Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2006
Literary, Canadian
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    Publish Date
    Apr 2006
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Adele Wiseman was a seminal figure in Canadian letters. Always independent and wilful, she charted her own literary career, based on her unfailing belief in her artistic vision. In The Force of Vocation, the first book on Wiseman's writing life, Ruth Panofsky presents Wiseman as a writer who doggedly and ambitiously perfected her craft, sought a wide audience for her work, and refused to compromise her work for marketability.Based on previously unpublished archival material and personal interviews with publishers, editors, and writers, The Force of Vocation charts Wiseman's career from her internationally acclaimed first novel, The Sacrifice, through her near career-ending decisions to move into drama and non-fiction, to her many years as a dedicated mentor to other writers. In the process, Panofsky presents a remarkable and compelling story of the intricate negotiations and complex relationships that exist among authors, editors, and publishers.

About the author

Ruth Panofsky is an award-winning poet who lives and writes in Toronto, where she teaches Canadian Literature and Culture at Ryerson University. She is the author of The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman (2006) and The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture (2012). Her award-winning critical edition of the collected poetry of Miriam Waddington appeared in two volumes in 2014 and, most recently, she edited The Spice Box: Canadian Jewish Writing (2017). Her newest work, Toronto Trailblazers: Women in Canadian Publishing, which focuses on key twentieth-century publishers, editors, and literary agents, was published in 2019. She is also an award-winning poet. She received the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Laike and Nahum: A Poem in Two Voices (2007). Radiant Shards: Hoda's North End Poems, her third volume of verse, received a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Award.

Ruth Panofsky's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Ruth Panofsky set out to produce the kind of book we very much need in Canada, an “empirical account of a literary career,” which focuses on the professional side of an author’s life rather than the personal…she succeeds in this endeavour…Ironically, what we learn from this study is less about Wiseman as a professional writer and more about Wiseman’s temperament, which was clearly shaped more by highly romanticized notions of the artist than from her actual engagement with the publishing restraints and possibilities of her time.”

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

“This literary biography tells a deeply moving yet historically accurate ‘story of the storyteller’ that it should be a model for other scholars to embrace. It narrates one writer’s life, yet, The Force of Vocation chronicles also the general experiences of being a writer in Canada during the last half of the 20th century.”

Zeitschrift fur Kanada-Studien , 27.2, 2007

Other titles by Ruth Panofsky