In spite of critical uncertainty about the generic nature of the novel, The Loved and the Lost won a Canadian award for fiction when it was first published, and it is frequently required reading in Canada in university courses on Canadian literature. In 1955, it was adapted as a Broadway musical, although it never reached the stage. It stands out in the Callaghan canon as somewhat of an anomaly, most similar to that earlier Callaghan anomaly of the 1930’s, Such Is My Beloved, for it seems very much a book about the complex problem of selfless versus selfish love.
Most critics agree that Morley Callaghan’s earlier novels constitute his best work, and thus, The Loved and the Lost, his one novel published in the 1950’s, has not received the same kind of praise and critical attention as his works in the 1930’s. At that time, when Callaghan made his debut as a writer, in the United States he was compared to Ernest Hemingway and touted as a master of the short story equal to Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy. Although he never fulfilled this early promise and is not as well-known in America as he was in the 1930’s, he remains one of Canada’s most significant twentieth century writers.