James Sinclair Ross was one of the most important Canadian writers of the twentieth century. He grew up in the western province of Saskatchewan, where after graduating from high school he worked as a clerk for the Royal Bank in a number of the region’s rural communities. In 1933 he was transferred to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and began to write short stories based on his experiences of life on the Canadian prairie. His two collections of short fiction, The Lamp at Noon, and Other Stories and The Race, and Other Stories, are important landmarks in his literary career. When several of his early stories were accepted by the prestigious literary journal Queen’s Quarterly, Ross decided to try his hand at a novel, and As for Me and My House was published in 1941.
Appearing at a critical period during World War II, and a year before Ross began his 1942-1946 service in the Canadian army, As for Me and My House remained largely unnoticed until it was reissued in paperback in the New Canadian Library series in 1957. It was then hailed as a masterpiece of Canadian literature and has maintained this canonical status despite the comparative lack of enthusiasm with which Ross’s later novels were greeted.
As for Me and My House is narrated from the point of view of Mrs. Philip Bentley, whose husband is the Protestant minister in a small prairie town. An aloof, artistic, and deeply sensitive man, Philip chafes against the restrictions of rural life while trying to honor his commitments to God and family. He manages to create a hell on earth for himself and others. The...
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