Structural technique in the fiction of Frederick Philip Grove
Thompson, Joyce Lesley.
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An integrated work is meant to be apprehended as such; the artist fails if we do not so see it. Yet artistic unity derives from multiple sources, and no unified piece of literature owes its effect to a single agent. The analogy of a loom with its warp and woof is perhaps obvious, but it captures the sense of major and minor structures weaving the fabric of a novel, essay, or story. This is the light in which I have attempted to approach the writings of Frederick Philip Grove, with sub-themes and motifs woven upon the framework of his major themes. At times he succeeds; at others he does not. But his acute awareness of the necessity, power, and challenge of craftsmanship is ever present. An active intellect in search of himself and his world, Grove could not do other than seek order and meaning in each encounter of pen and paper. The canon of his works testifies to the considerable, if flawed, extent of his success. In F. P. Grove's best novels only an exacting line-by-line examination can adequately reveal the complexity of the structure underlying and supporting the unified total result. Such a method, aided by the key-sort technique of data processing, has been used in this thesis to analyze the intricacies of Settlers of the Marsh. With that detailed study as a basis, it is then possible to move fairly rapidly through the other Grove novels and eventually the entire fictional canon, generalizing on the weaknesses and achievements of each. By comparison of relative successes in different genres, major insights into Grove's mind and craft emerge: for example, his need for the breadth of the novel form to capitalize upon patterns of recurrence in achieving his artistic impact. The range of quality is such that few simple definitive statements on Grove's work may be made. But throughout there is constant evidence of Grove's ability through technique to transform content into art.