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Cover for Of Sunken Islands and Pestilence

Of Sunken Islands and Pestilence

Restoring the Voice of Edward Taylor Fletcher to Nineteenth-Century Canadian Literature

James Gifford


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Recuperates the lost works of Edward Taylor Fletcher and argues for his place in the literary canon.

Edward Taylor Fletcher was a nineteenth-century literary figure who has been almost completely forgotten by history. Poet, travel writer, essayist, surveyor, philologist, and translator, Fletcher shared many characteristics with the great literary figures of the time. Yet his writing represents a significant departure from his contemporaries and a close reading of his work reshapes our understanding of the Canadian long poem and the cultural values of Canadian poetry.  A polyglot, Fletcher’s poetry interweaves Canadian landscapes with modern and ancient traditions of the East and West and integrates allusions and innovations from several different literary traditions including the Kalavela, the Mahabharata, and the Poetic Edda. By recuperating Fletcher’s nineteenth-century works, James Gifford uncovers a unique Canadian literary voice who explored content, style, and concerns unlike the popular colonial narratives of his time.

Athabasca University Press, 9781771993449, 220pp.

Publication Date: August 5, 2022

About the Author

James Gifford is professor of literature at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is the author of Personal Modernisms and A Modernist Fantasy.