The lost legacy of Margaret Laurence : a rediscovery of A Tree for Poverty, The Prophet's Camel Bell, Heart of a Stranger, and Dance on the Earth

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Mackintosh, Marie J.
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While the fictional work of Margaret Laurence has received much critical attention, A Tree For Poverty, The Prophet's Camel Bell, Heart of a Stranger, and Dance On The Earth have been ignored to the extent that they form a remnant that might be termed the lost legacy of this major Canadian author. This thesis is a call to re-read these seminal texts within the context of contemporary critical strategies that will rescue them from the oblivion to which they were consigned by thematic critics. In Chapter Two, A Tree For Poverty is appreciated as a text in which Laurence, as mediating presence brings the oral Somali literary tradition to voice; an apprenticeship for dismantling the binaries of centre and margin. The Prophet's Camel Bell, the focus of Chapter Three, traces the creation of a melange text that mixes autobiography, travel literature and post colonial writing on a textual site that defies hierarchical assumptions. Laurence's early efforts in cultural decoding provide a paradigm for post structuralist Canadian writing in Heart of a Stranger, an occasion of jouissance and enlightenntent that is reclaimed in Chapter Four. Chapters Five and Six examine the ecofeminist philosophy that is articulated in the fluid life writing experiment of Dance On The Earth. A module of matriarchal mutuality choreographed by the dance motif structures the memoir while the miscellanv that follows is a palimpsest of Laurence's career from translator to lifewriter. This thesis foregrounds the importance of new areas of critical and academic study that will bring these marginalized texts to critical attention and revitalize the work of Margaret Laurence for contemporary audiences.