Studies in Literature and the Humanities: Innocence of Intent

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In the closing stages of the war, Whalley was returned to Canada to serve on Royal Canadian Navy destroyers. He retired with the rank of commander in Whalley published two collections of poems that were written during and in the aftermath of World War Two. The first, Poems — , was issued as part of the Ryerson Poetry Chapbook series in It contains 17 poems. The second book, No Man An Island , appeared in It contains 41 poems, some of which are reprinted from the chapbook. The Collected Poems of George Whalley , edited by George Johnston and published in , contains 76 poems, including all of the pieces that appeared in the two earlier books.

The Complete Poems of George Whalley, a volume of more than poems edited by Michael John DiSanto, contains all of the published verses and all known unpublished pieces gathered from manuscripts and typescripts preserved in Queen's University Archives and private family papers.

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Whalley's "rare body of wartime poetry" [2] has been praised as "war poems [that] display a mature range and scope that is unmatched by any other of the second world war poets". Whalley nurtured the talents of younger poets. Michael Ondaatje, one of Whalley's students at Queen's University in the s, reveals that Whalley helped him with a manuscript of his first volume of poetry, teaching him how to organize and structure a volume with deliberation [6].


After receiving his MA in English from Bishop's University for the thesis 'A Critique of Criticism' in , Whalley began revising the thesis into a book-length study that was published in with the title Poetic Process: an essay in poetics. Central to the argument is that the thinking which goes into the making of poetry is as important as the thinking that goes into the study of science. While not attacking science or dismissing its procedures for investigating the world, Whalley seeks to reset the balance by showing that poetry and science are two different modes of knowing that make use of language and know reality in distinct, opposing ways.

Whalley calls the poetic mind contemplative and the scientific mind technical , a key distinction throughout the book. He also recognizes that great discoveries in poetry and science involve the whole of the person working in harmony. Eliot, W. But the synthesis Whalley produces makes the book as a whole distinct, not merely derivative of others' ideas. In the introduction, Whalley explains that the book originated in a recognition that philosophy, psychology, criticism, and other disciplines of thought, had failed to adequately account for poetry.

Years later, in a lecture given at Queen's University, Whalley revisited his view of heuristics by questioning predominant assumptions about knowing and rejecting the assumption that knowledge equates with analysis, mastery, and control of a studied object, instead calling for a way of knowing in which poetry is an instrument of inquiry and the poems tell us how to get to know. In order to make a start on providing an adequate account of art, especially poetry, in Poetic Process , Whalley turns to writings and reflections written by artists: the second chapter, on Artists on Art, focuses on the Yeats and James Joyce and examines their thoughts on the experience of being poets and making poetry.

Whalley repeatedly questions the fact and value distinction by arguing that value is inscribed in the very act of perception. A key element in the activity of making poetry, at its earliest stage, is the charge of feeling and value created with the poet's encounter with reality. The poem comes into being through a process of self-discovery a discovery of the person and the poem arising from the originating charge of feeling. The centrality of imagination in perception and poetry is explored in detail in the middle chapters. In the fourth chapter Whalley compares the arguments made by Coleridge and Kant about the nature and quality of the imagination.

In the fifth chapter Whalley develops his ideas about the importance of memory and feeling the latter is distinct from emotion, which Whalley cautions is a dangerous element in life in the process of image-making and in the poet's work of getting-to-know the other person or thing. The latter is explained via John Keats' notion of negative capability , which Whalley sees as a rhythm in the mind of the poet that moves back and forth between sympathetic identifying and critical distancing.

In later chapters he explores metaphor, symbol and myth, and music and rhythm in great detail and with much subtlety. Whalley's profound knowledge of music is revealed throughout those discussions.

George Whalley

To substantiate his observations, Whalley reproduces passages of poetry from a significant number of writers: from John Donne to Yeats, from Shakespeare to T. Whalley was a leading expert on the writings of the poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge , whom he read and studied from the late s until the end of his life. His PhD thesis was entitled S.

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Coleridge: Library Cormorant. He published over twenty scholarly essays and articles on Coleridge's poetry, letters, criticism, and marginalia and these appeared in numerous journals including Queen's Quarterly , University of Toronto Quarterly , and Review of English Studies. His second book of literary criticism was Coleridge and Sara Hutchinson and the Asra Poems , which was published in For thirty years, he collected and organized Coleridge's marginalia, which was published in six volumes as part of The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Whalley edited the first two volumes and was named as a co-editor, with H. Jackson, for the other four, which were published after his death. In the s, Whalley travelled to the Thelon River site of the Hornby camp. The Legend of John Hornby has been identified as one of the great Canadian biographies and a pivotal text in Canadian modernism. In the s Whalley worked on a translation in Whalley's word, an 'Englished' version of Aristotle's Poetics , which was largely complete by but not published until after his death. And James, though too slow-moving for many twenty-first-century readers, provided a feast for nineteenth-century readers used to savoring long books.

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The marriage that she thought of as her own artistic experiment in changing human destiny has been false from its beginning, a convenience Madame Merle contrived to benefit the daughter she conceived with Osmond. However, James would have readers see that in an odd way he has brought her into fuller if sadder understanding of herself. Having learned that freedom imposes its own restrictions, Isabel returns to the diminished life she chose.

Whatever freedom James accords his protagonists comes with profound loneliness. Trowbridge, E. His knowledge is of the fullest, his resources of allusion and comparison are endless, [and] his demarcation of different schools of literature is exact. He could not, of course, have anticipated those who followed in the next century. Scott Fitzgerald, and Richard Wright thought of an apprenticeship in Europe as a rite of authorship.

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  7. For some Americans this gesture seemed like treason. Shrewdly predicting that James would have to create an audience if he were to continue to develop as an artist, Howells helped James as he helped Mark Twain by actively soliciting and reviewing his work. It was not just that names like Howells and James had replaced those of Thackeray and Dickens, or that one national literature had superseded another. Howells jettisoned a whole system of values associated with British culture and represented by the Church, the aristocracy, Oxford and Cambridge, Epsom and Ascot.

    Howells stayed at home and read Henry James. Howells borrowed at second-hand, and without knowing what he was borrowing. If, in the city of New York, a great museum of the arts were to be provided, by way of decoration, with a species of veranda inclosed on one side by a series of small-paned casements, draped in dirty linen, and.

    It seems fitting that a magazine that began by defining itself in comparison and opposition to English counterparts should nevertheless count James among its most loyal contributors.

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    He had not stepped on native ground for over twenty years. In the end, he posed more questions than he may have answered, for though he believed it was better to know than to remain ignorant, true knowing involved surrendering himself to the finally unknowable welter of life. Perhaps it was impossible to grasp what America meant to him beyond its play on his imagination.