J. R. (Tim) Struthers
As in The Tempest, the action of Jack Hodgins' second novel originates in a giant wave, which shipwrecks characters on an island of romance and is followed by a series of magical transformations. The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne takes place on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island in the flooded and rain-drenched pulp town of Port Annie—"the end of the world" …, that is, "the edge of nothingness" … as it is perceived by Joseph Bourne in a mood of despair and disbelief, but also "the brink of eternity" … when seen from a visionary perspective. Nearly all of Port Annie's inhabitants have come from somewhere else which they would prefer to forget and, like the characters in Hodgins' first novel, all are still restlessly searching for an ideal which they have not attained, a new Eden or utopia, something which is different for every individual but nevertheless the same.
For the residents of Port Annie, eternity manifests itself in the gorgeous shape of a cinnamon-skinned girl with an incredible walk and a cheeky behind who appears off a temporarily shipwrecked Peruvian freighter to save the aged, travelled, and world-weary Joseph Bourne from "the dark despair which was leading him straight to death."… Under the attention of the girl … whom we gradually recognize as an extraordinarily attractive agent of, and metaphor for, Divine Grace—Bourne is raised up out of death…. He regains a belief in the mystery of the spirit, life, love, the soul, and regains hope, a sense of the ideal, and a capacity to dream, and is transformed into a miracle-worker, healer, teacher, shaman, magician, and saviour.
The mysterious Joseph Bourne—as the town's librarian, Larry Bowman, discovers—is a native of Vancouver Island and, more importantly, a world-renowned poet. The assorted reactions by town residents, including the four ladies who constitute the Port Annie Creative Writing Club, to a book of Bourne's poetry, Possessing Me, are one source of the marvellous and delightful humour which characterizes Hodgins' writing throughout almost all of the novel. At the same time, Bourne's theories of poetry and the themes of his work are a serious reflection of Hodgins' own meaning. (pp. 126-27)
Bourne's own actions, following his rebirth, express his rediscovered "faith in the absolute power of good" …; yet his occasional antics show, too, that he is willing to make fun of himself and is anxious to avoid "too much solemnity."… (p. 128)
Hodgins' depiction of Joseph Bourne exemplifies how the novel's profoundly religious meaning is thoroughly animated with humour and...
(The entire section is 622 words.)