The first decades of the twentieth century gradually prepare for the maturity conquered by the last generations of Canadian writers.
The twenties and thirties recorded the first poetic awakening, thanks to contacts with the European and American avant-garde. Among the English speakers, AJM Smith and FR Scott stand out, and in particular EJ Pratt and AM Klein, today recognized as the most significant poets of the first half of the century. After the experience of the Ecole Littéraire de Montréal group (including E. Nelligan and A. Lozeau), even the poets of Quebec look to Paris as the true intellectual homeland. The French influence is especially evident in the work of R. Dubé, P. Morin, H. de Saint Denys Garneau and A. Grandbois. English-language fiction finds inspiration above all in the classic theme of the relationship with the earth in FP Grove, M. Ostenso and R. Stead, and in social and urban realism throughout the work of M. Callaghan. With Bonheur d’occasion (1945), a novel about the impact of a family in rural Quebec with the reality of the city, G. Roy also drew attention to Europe.
The most important events of the 1950s are the publication of N. Frye ‘s Anatomy of criticism (1957; trans. It., 1969), which introduces archetypal analysis in literary criticism, and G. Woodcock’s training in Vancouver. of Canadian Literature magazine, which aims to promote a national literary consciousness.
The 1960s, with the centenary celebrations in 1967, gave birth to a new cultural, political and economic nationalism.
In Quebec, the traditional spirit of independence reinforces separatist ideas which are reflected in the fiction of H. Aquin, Canada Jasmin and J. Godbout. Other authors (A. Langevin, MC Blais, R. Ducharme, R. Carrier, A. Hébert) explore different themes with a certain taste for psychological analysis and the grotesque. Equally large and active is the group of English-speaking narrators: S. Ross, M. Richler, E. Buckler, WO Mitchell, R. Wiebe, T. Findley, R. Kroetsch and F. Mowat analyze with modernist and post- various, sometimes regional, aspects of Canadian reality. And while H. MacLennan in The Return of the Sphinx (1967) extensively explores the new multi-cultural nationalism of his country, in L. Cohen Beautiful losers (1966; trans. It. Beautiful and losers, 1976), on the conversion to Catholicism of an Indian girl of the century. 17 0, deals with the theme of the Indian past and the complex relationships between different races and cultures. Female fiction continues the nineteenth-century tradition started by S. Moodie and affirms itself with the works of M. Laurence, The stone angel (1965) and The diviners (1974); by A. Munroe, Lives of girls and women (1971); and M. Atwood, a true protagonist of the contemporary literary scene both with his numerous volumes of poetry and with his novels: The edible woman (1969; trans. it. A woman to eat, 1976), Surfacing (1972; trans. it. Returning to the surface, 1988), Lady Oracle (1976; trans. It., 1986) and The handmaid’s tale (1985; trans. It. The handmaid’s tale, 1988). In the seventies the playwright and narrator R. Davies also imposed himself with a brilliant trilogy: Fifth business (1971; trans. It. The fifth inconvenience, 1988), The manticore (1972) and World of wonders (1975).
English language poetry tends to recover the nation’s historical origins and Indian past through the long poem.
Established poets – I. Layton, R. Gustafson, D. Livesay, E. Birney – continue to produce, while new personalities, some enriched by the experience of American poetry and in particular by the Black Mountain movement, appear on the Canadian scene eastern (Toronto, Quebec and Montreal) and western (British Columbia). A large group of new poets moves around small avant-garde magazines (Tish, Prism, Tamarack Review, etc.): from E. Mandel to G. MacEwen, from G. Bowering to A. Purdy, from J. Newlove to S. Musgrave, from M. Ondaatje to D. Lee, etc. In the Francophonie, however, the movement of the Exagone emerges with GM Lapointe, R. Giguère and G. Miron, who in the 1970s and 1980s will be joined by other voices: N. Brossard, Canada Péloquin, Y. Préfontaine.
Virtually non-existent in the nineteenth century, Canadian theater began and expressed itself in the Thirties and Forties with the Little Theater Movement, and with more certainty in the period 1945-60 which, with the spread of radio, saw the invention of radio play.
Gélinas with Tit-coq (1950), P. Toupin and M. Dubé lay the foundations of the active Quebec theater in which the prolific M. Tremblay, J. Barbeau, R. Gurik and F. Loranger will dominate in the seventies. The English language theater is expressed with R. Davies, J. Reaney (also a good poet), G. Ryga, D. Freeman, B. Simons and D. Fennario.
Nonfiction continues to affirm the dominance of HM McLuhan with Understanding media (1964; it. The tools of communication, 1967), The Gutenberg Galaxy: the making of typographic man (1962; it., 1981) and other works. His analysis of the mass media and his idea of the “global village” exerted no small influence on Canadian thinking. Just as The modern century (1967; trans. It. Culture and myths of our time, 1969) and Divisions on a ground by N. Frye represent the most complete synthesis of a history of Canadian and North American culture.