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Literary Criticism General

The Stoic Strain in American Literature

Essays in Honour of Marston LaFrance

edited by Duane MacMillan

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1979
General, General, Essays, Literary
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1979
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Marston LaFrance (1927-75) was a stoic for most of his life, although the basic humanitas of the man softened what otherwise might have been mere grim endurance. This tribute to him is a new kind of festschrift: the papers in it are unified by their strict critical focus on stoicism in American literature. The strain is evident in both the tension in the works of various important American writers and in the philosophical vein of stoicism which runs through several genres, over long periods of time.


Of Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience (1849), LaFrance said: ‘It seems to me to be the best available statement of a distinctive philosophical position – the assertion of a moral self reliance – which is found throughout American literature … a peculiar strain of cussedness which seems to me to be an essential property of the American mind.’ That ‘strain of cussedness’ is explored in various ways in this book. These are essays which provoke and advance scholarship and critical insight. Strict philosophical rigour is sometimes ‘strained’ in favour of unity, but the essays, in their juxtaposition, suggest that the stoic theme in American literature is a fruitful subject for exploration.
The book contains essays and tributes by Peter Buitenhuis, Milton R. Stern, Gay Wilson Allen, Munro Beattie, Richard Allan Davison, Roger B. Salomon, Melvin K. Backman, Daniel Fuchs, Lewis A. Lawson, Tom Middlebro, George Johnston, and the editor, Duane J. MacMillan.

About the author

DUANE J. MACMILLAN is a member of the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan.

Duane MacMillan's profile page