About the Author

Marston LaFrance

MARSTON LAFRANCE was a member of the Department of English at Carleton University from 1963 until his death in 1975. His colleagues remember him as a teacher intensely loyal to his students and to the intellectual functions of the university, as well as a critic with great sensitivity to the craft of language. His own writing was vigorous, flexible, lucid, and precise. He was a stoic from most of his life, although the basic humanitas of the man softened what otherwise might have been mere grim endurance. This tribute to him focuses on a stoicism in American literature. The strain is evident in both the tension in the works of various impotant 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 peciluar 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.

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