Critical Context

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Fruits of the Earth is recognized by many critics as a work not only central to Grove’s career but also central to Canadian literature. The year after its publication, in fact, Grove was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal by the Royal Society of Canada to honor his contribution to Canadian letters.

The novel is, in later criticism, particularly admired because of its effort to demythologize the image of the pioneer. Grove gives heroic stature to the pioneer, but he does not refrain from bringing that heroic stature into realistic focus. The achievements of single-mindedness deserve full credit and acknowledgment, Grove suggests, but the consequences of that singlemindedness should not be oversimplified or overlooked. Heroic strength, determination, and endurance cannot, without foresight, create a sustained community. Thus, Grove’s work functions as a kind of criticism of a culture which often lacks vision.

Finally, Grove’s effort to demythologize the Canadian past is particularly crucial because it makes him one of the key writers who introduced social realism to Canadian literature. Although, in the past, his writings were too frank, too open, too harsh for the popular taste, which preferred less exacting and less problematic versions of the pioneers, Grove’s prairie realism has gradually won respect and recognition. His works are considered by most critics to be some of the best and most forthright literature dealing with the idealism and the disillusionment of the pioneer period.