Jack Hodgins George Woodcock

Start Your Free Trial

Download Jack Hodgins Study Guide

Subscribe Now

George Woodcock

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

My doubts [about The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne] come from a feeling that, while Hodgins sustains the vividness of his writing and the surreal wildness of his humour, he seems already to be settling into a kind of high-grade fictional formula. In a disquieting way, The Resurrection reads like The Invention's non-identical twin or—paying due attention to Hodgins' choice of titles—its reincarnation in another year and place.

The echoes from one book to the other depend on far more than the fact that Jack Hodgins has chosen to place his novel once again in the Vancouver Island world of frontier eccentrics whose feeling and spirit he renders so well. They are echoes of structure, of plot, of mythology, even of character; the similarities are not exact, but they are strong enough to haunt one through the reading of The Resurrection and to make one constantly compare it with The Invention. (p. 70)

Why, since they are similar …, is The Resurrection so much less than one had expected after The Invention? I think of two reasons. First is the choice of a poet as the central, larger-than-life figure. The fictional cult of the writer as hero is positively antique by now; after all, it is 110 years since Flaubert published L'Education sentimentale, and the form that served writers like Joyce and Gide and Huxley so well has run down in the past decades, so that the only really successful recent example I know is Margaret Laurence's The Diviners. And the wearing out of this literary device is quite evident in the failure of Joseph Bourne to hold one's attention as Keneally did in Invention. By the end of the book one does not think—as one did of Keneally with some interest—"What will the old fraud do next?", but rather, with resignation, "What will the old bore say next?"

The other flaw in The Resurrection as compared with The Invention is that instead of ranging over the long stretch of Vancouver Island with its different kinds of landscape and different knots of community, Hodgins concentrates everything in a small town closed in by the mountains where isolation turns the people into self-repeating types rather like the humours of Jonsonian comedy…. [The] final effect is a strange cacophony of characterization , only partly harmonized in the final, admittedly moving, scene…. (pp....

(The entire section is 585 words.)