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A student at McGill in the mid-1950s, Marian Engel wrote her M. A. thesis under the direction of Hugh MacLennan. Their work together became the basis of a correspondence, the MacLennan half of which survives and is detailed here. Both personal and professional in nature, MacLennan's letters to Engel provide fascinating insights into his life's pursuit of writing and offer another glimpse of the author of Two Solitudes.
In Each Man's Son, his fourth novel, Hugh MacLennan returns to his native Cape Breton to present life in a small mining community.<P> Dr. Daniel Ainslie, who ministers to the rough miners, yearns for a son, which he can never have. He comes to love young Alan MacNeil, the son of Mollie MacNeil and her absent husband, Archie, who deserted his family several years before to seek his fortune as a professional fighter. Now Archie returns, bitter and defeated, to wreak tragedy on his community.<P> Originally published in 1951, Each Man's Son, a stunning account of the rationalistic Ainslie and the animalistic MacNeil, moves inexorably towards its harrowing conclusion.
The Precipice is the sweeping story of Lucy Cameron, a young woman who seems destined to live and die in small-town Ontario. Into this place of monotony and petty incidents, of spiteful gossip and rigid moralism, appears Stephen Lassiter. Stephen is a Princeton-educated engineer from a wealthy New York family and Lucy's antithesis. Despite the chasm of their differences, they fall in love, marry, and begin life together in New York during the distressing years of the Second World War. It is a life that will nearly break Lucy in heart and spirit, however, as her husband faces disillusionment in his job and boredom in the serenity of his home life. While Stephen looks for excitement and approval elsewhere, Lucy must fight to retain her poise and dignity in order to survive. With its sustained contrast between the crushing deadness of small-town life and the glittering artificiality of New York City, MacLennan's third novel revealed a new level of maturity when it first appeared in 1948. A classic now back in print, with an introduction by renowned scholar and MacLennan biographer Elspeth Cameron, this timeless story portrays characters with a realism and fascination that is as rare as it is effective.
Alan Ainslie is an able and dedicated man high in the government. Daniel Ainslie, his son, is a member of an explosive movement impelled by the naive rebelliousness of the New Left. Hugh MacLennan weaves a complex and story of two generations in conflict. Originally published in 1967, Return of the Sphinx is something of a sequel to the more optimistic Two Solitudes and reflects MacLennan's disenchantment with the world in general and the apparently intractable French-English debate in Canada.
In the 1980s the Bureaucracy eliminated all knowledge of the past in the wake of a nuclear holocaust. In 2030 Andr?ervais discovers two metal boxes containing manuscripts, diaries, and other personal papers that have somehow survived and asks an old man, John Wellfleet, to use these documents to discover the past. In doing so, Wellfleet learns the truth about two relatives: his older cousin Timothy Wellfleet, a Montreal TV journalist at the time of the 1970 War Measures Act, and his stepfather, Conrad Dehmel, a German scholar struggling to keep his Jewish fianc?and himself safe from Hitler's Gestapo. Hugh MacLennan skillfully juxtaposes the insanity of life in Nazi Germany, the political climate of Montreal in the 1960s, and the perspective of an old man looking back on the conditions that led to world destruction as the background to an unforgettable love story.
George and Catherine Stewart share not only the burden of Catherine's heart disease, which could cause her death at any time, but the memory of Jerome Martell, her first husband and George's closest friend. Martel, a brilliant doctor passionately concerned with social justice, is presumed to have died in a Nazi prison camp. His sudden return to Montreal precipitates the central crisis of the novel. Hugh MacLennan takes the reader into the lives of his three characters and back into the world of Montreal in the thirties, when politics could send an idealist across the world to Spain, France, Auschwitz, Russia, and China before his return home.
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