The primeval element in the prairie novels of Frederick Philip Grove
McLeod, Gordon Duncan.
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This thesis concerns itself with the novels of Grove written between 1912 when he arrived on the prairie and the publication of Fruits of the Earth in 1933. I have attempted to show that Grove chose the Canadian prairie because what he wanted to write about offered itself in this environment. Grove came with a knowledge of literature, the symbolism of which he wished to express against a primeval setting. He brought together his immense characterizations and the only environment grand and primeval enough to serve as a stage for them. I believe that his knowledge of literature has emerged in the form of archetypal symbolism. In addition Grove has written with a clearly defined view of literary procedure: to be a work of art literature must strive to mirror a more or less universal human reaction to life. He saw the writer as an artist who, rather than photographing or recording real life, selected details from that life to "body forth" in a work of art what he thought of it all. Grove refers to the literary procedure as realism. Finally I wish to show that the view of life mirrored is a tragic view: of conflict and triumph mixed with defeat. Grove has blended the tragic hero of Aristotle with the problem play situation of Ibsen. His tragic heroes are men who have attempted to achieve the unattainable, but they have exulted, like Prometheus, in their defiance of the gods and in achieving as much of their dream as they did achieve. I have discussed these three aspects of Grove's writing with reference to his four published prairie novels: Fruits of the Earth, Our Daily Bread, Settlers of the Marsh, and The Yoke of Life.