Such is My Beloved by Morley Callaghan (Ibis3's CanLit 101 Book#2)

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I haven't started yet, but I will soon be reading my next CanLit Book.

From the back cover:
"One of the great novels of the 1930s, Such is My Beloved recounts the tragic story of two down-and-out prostitutes and the young priest who aspires to redeem their lives. The novel is at once a compassionate portrait of innocence and idealism and an emphatic condemnation of a society where the lines between good and evil are essentially blurred.

A richly textured exploration of love and sacrifice, of innocence and disillusionment, Such is My Beloved, is widely considered Callaghan's finest novel"

There is a blog for my CanLit project at http://ibis3.blogspot.com/

 

you will write up more authors, as I look forward to your recommendations. Having just finished Marion Engel's "Bear", I am excited about reading some others (not all!) on your list. Could you give me an idea of chronology? Who are some of the pioneers in your list?

 

I'll add the years to the blog list. *Literally* the pioneers would have to be sisters Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill who wrote about roughing it in the bush in the back woods of Canada in the 19th century. :) Other early writers were Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Ralph Connor, Frances Brooke (who wrote the earliest North American novel back in 1769), Sara Jeannette Duncan, Duncan Campbell Scott, Anna Brownell Jameson, and M. Allerdale Grainger.

 

Callaghan's style is in some ways reminiscent of Hemingway's (hardly surprising given the association of the two men). They both have a kind of straight-forward quality. Callaghan's subject matter is quite different, however (at least from what I can compare between this novel and Hemingway's short stories that I'm listening to on audio). Such is My Beloved is about charity and (wilful?) blindness. In that way, it serves as a kind of variation on themes raised in Bleak House.

I love how books seem to be instruments in an orchestra, playing harmonies and melodies, commenting on one another and adding to the composition as a whole.

 

This book would be a good one for a bookclub. There's lots of meat for discussion, both about the characters & their situations as well as social issues, then and now. Callaghan himself leaves it up to the reader to determine what the story means and how its lessons (if there are any) might be applied in real life. There are questions about the meaning of charity, about the role of institutions (the church, the powerful, the law, the social activists) in the desperation of and assistance towards the poor and dispossesed, about love (carnal, practical, idealistic, spiritual), about women in society...

The novel itself was straight-forward (short too) without anything extraneous--including exposition by the author. Just the facts, ma'am. I generally like a book with more curly-cues (Dickens, anyone?).

I can see why Morley Callaghan is considered such a good writer, and I'm looking forward to more.

 

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