Isabella Valancy Crawford Criticism - Essay

Kenneth J. Hughes and Birk Sproxton (essay date summer 1975)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hughes, Kenneth J., and Birk Sproxton. “‘Malcolm's Katie’: Images and Songs.” Canadian Literature, no. 55 (summer 1975): 55-64.

[In the following essay, Hughes and Sproxton argue that “Malcolm's Katie” consists of several intertwined love stories.]

Isabella Valancy Crawford's “Malcolm's Katie,” as we learn from the sub-title, is a love story. But even the most cursory reading reveals that this is not simply the story of love between a man and a woman. “Malcolm's Katie” in fact consists of a series of interrelated love stories. In addition to the story of the love of Max and Katie, we have the story of Malcolm's love for his daughter, the...

(The entire section is 4260 words.)

Robin Mathews (essay date winter 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mathews, Robin. “‘Malcolm's Katie’: Love, Wealth, and Nation Building.” Studies in Canadian Literature 2, no. 2 (winter 1977): 49-60.

[In the following essay, Mathews studies the various themes that comprise “Malcolm's Katie.”]

Isabella Valancy Crawford's major poem “Malcolm's Katie,” a central work in the English Canadian literary tradition, deals with love, regeneration, wealth, and nation building. The poem, along with her others, has often been treated as the production of a solitary genius working largely outside the ideas of her time and tradition. Readers have seen Crawford as unique or eccentric because “Malcolm's Katie,” unlike...

(The entire section is 5960 words.)

Catherine Sheldrick Ross (essay date spring/summer 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ross, Catherine Sheldrick. “Isabella Valancy Crawford's ‘Gisli the Chieftain.’” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, no. 2 (spring/summer 1978): 28-37.

[In the following essay, Ross analyzes “Gisli the Chieftain,” arguing that the poem best embodies Crawford's use of the “solar myth” and outlining the poem's mythological sources.]

The structural core of all Isabella Valancy Crawford's work is romance. At fourteen she was writing fairy tales already containing the elements of design that she was to elaborate in her later fiction and poetry. Her prose romances repeatedly use motifs of dark and fair heroines; a descent into a world of...

(The entire section is 4905 words.)

James F. Johnson (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Johnson, James F. “‘Malcolm's Katie’ and Hugh and Ion: Crawford's Changing Narrative Vision.” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, no. 3 (1978): 56-61.

[In the following essay, Johnson compares the early “Malcolm's Katie” with the unfinished Hugh and Ion.]

The poetry of Isabella Valancy Crawford has not gone completely unadmired since her death in 1887, though it has never been elevated to the stature of the work of Lampman and Roberts. Students of Canadian poetry, throughout this century, have generally been aware of a handful of lyrics and of the narrative poem “Malcolm's Katie,” or at least of excerpts from this long work....

(The entire section is 2749 words.)

John Ower (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ower, John. “Isabella Valancy Crawford and ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry’.” Studies in Scottish Literature 13, (1978): 275-81.

[In the following essay, Ower argues that “The Lily Bed” is an ironic reaction to the essay “The Fleshly School of Poetry: Mr. D. G. Rossetti” by Robert Buchanan.]

The sexual symbolism in “The Lily Bed,” one of the best-known poems by the Canadian writer Isabella Valancy Crawford (1850-1887), has been noted by several of the writer's more recent critics. Thus, James Reaney suggests that the thrusting of a “cedar paddle, scented, red” into a bed of water lilies is a figure that “Solomon might have borrowed for...

(The entire section is 1989 words.)

John Ower (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ower, John. “Crawford and the Penetrating Weapon.” In The Crawford Symposium, edited by Frank M. Tierney, pp. 33-47. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1979.

[In the following essay, originally presented at the fifth Symposium of the University of Ottawa Symposia series in 1978, Ower analyzes Crawford's use of the “piercing weapon” as a phallic symbol in her poetry.]

In his brilliant pioneering study of Crawford's poetry, James Reaney stresses the architectonic quality of her imagination.1 He indicates how her work exhibits a visionary system that is in turn expressed through a “syntax” of repeated and modulated images. While Reaney has...

(The entire section is 6595 words.)

Fred Cogswell (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cogswell, Fred. “Feminism in Isabella Valancy Crawford's ‘Said the Canoe.’” In The Crawford Symposium, edited by Frank M. Tierney, pp. 79-85. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1979.

[In the following essay, originally presented at the fifth Symposium of the University of Ottawa Symposia series in 1978, Cogswell offers an analysis of “Said the Canoe,” which he argues is a feminist response to Tennyson's The Princess.]

The thesis which I put forward below is highly speculative. It is, however, speculative in the light of certain demonstrable factors which, taken together, make the speculation more than idle exercise. These factors are, firstly, my...

(The entire section is 3132 words.)

Barbara Godard (essay date winter 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Godard, Barbara. “Crawford's Fairy Tales.” Studies in Canadian Literature 4, no. 1 (winter 1979): 109-35.

[In the following essay, Godard examines the structure and style of Crawford's fairy tales.]

Today, we sometimes forget that fairy tales were not always the exclusive domain of childhood. Their remote origins lie in the folk tradition, but in the last three centuries they have become part of popular literature. Recognition of this fact has often led readers to identify this relatively primitive art form, “the childhood of art,” with “the art of childhood.” In particular, this confusion gained ground in the nineteenth century when, between 1840...

(The entire section is 9702 words.)

Catherine Sheldrick Ross (essay date summer 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ross, Catherine Sheldrick. “I. V. Crawford's Prose Fiction.” Canadian Literature, no. 81 (summer 1979): 47-58.

[In the following essay, Ross analyzes Crawford's fiction, primarily stories written for magazines and incomplete works.]

Crawford's literary reputation will be based, as she expected it would, upon her poetry and especially upon her verse narratives. She undoubtedly saw herself as a poet who must interrupt her real work long enough to write popular romances for money. There is, nevertheless, a continuity in her work that gives the prose its special interest. In the poetry and prose alike, her characteristic mode of perception is romance....

(The entire section is 5349 words.)

Germaine Warkentin (essay date winter 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Warkentin, Germaine. “The Problem of Crawford's Style.” Canadian Literature, no. 107 (winter 1985): 20-32.

[In the following essay, Warkentin examines stylistic contradictions in Crawford's poetry.]

Isabella Valancy Crawford is from one point of view a figure easily stereotyped. Though he wisely rejected any such pitfall, Northrop Frye nevertheless acknowledged that she was “an intelligent and industrious female songbird of the kind who filled so many anthologies in the last century.” But Frye also called her “the most remarkable mythopoeic imagination in Canadian poetry,”1 and (although he himself has written nothing extended on...

(The entire section is 5369 words.)

Mary Joy MacDonald (essay date fall/winter 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: MacDonald, Mary Joy. “Inglorious Battles: People and Power in Crawford's ‘Malcolm's Katie’.” Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, no. 23 (fall/winter 1988): 31-46.

[In the following essay, MacDonald reveals issues of power and gender in “Malcolm's Katie.”]

Critics of Isabella Valancy Crawford's “Malcolm's Katie: A Love Story” have tended to concentrate attention on certain problems of the poem, while overlooking others which may ultimately prove to be of equal significance. An important instance of this pattern is that, while most critics recognize spiritual growth in Max and Alfred, and a few accord Alfred a partially constructive...

(The entire section is 7846 words.)

Robert Alan Burns (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Burns, Robert Alan. “The Poet in Her Time: Isabella Valancy Crawford's Social, Economic, and Political Views.” Studies in Canadian Literature 14, no. 1 (1989): 30-53.

[In the following essay, Burns discusses the impact that Crawford's gender had on her writing, her reaction to events and social norms of the day, and analyzes related poems.]

After a lifetime of solitary effort to achieve recognition as a poet, Isabella Valancy Crawford felt understandable disappointment and bitterness toward the male-dominated editorship of literary periodicals in Canada. She expressed these emotions in a letter to Arcturus, a newly established literary journal, which...

(The entire section is 8278 words.)

Robert Alan Burns (essay date winter 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Burns, Robert Alan. “Crawford, Davin, and Riel: Text and Intertext in Hugh and Ion.Canadian Poetry: Studies, Documents, Reviews, no. 37 (winter 1995): 62-78.

[In the following essay, Burns looks at Crawford's writings in terms of intertextuality and her use of parody of other (primarily male) writers, focusing on Hugh and Ion and “Malcolm's Katie.”]

Renata R. Mautner Wasserman has commented recently that intertextuality occurs “when literary texts connect with other literary texts, with nonliterary texts, and with broadly conceived cultural contexts.” Wasserman continues by pointing out that intertextuality “can be conscious, as a...

(The entire section is 6055 words.)