Anglo-Modernism in Canada By Irvine, Dean
Among the movements originating in Western Europe that instigated the modernist turn in anglophone Canadian literature, the most prominent were symbolism, impressionism, aestheticism, and decadence, which saw significant uptake by writers of Canada’s fin-de-siècle generation, particularly among those who moved to New York and Boston in the 1890s. Of these Canadian expatriates, Arthur Stringer, who was best known at the time for his crime fiction, later penned Canadian modernism’s first manifesto for free verse in the foreword to his poetry collection Open Water (1914) and produced its earliest stream-of-consciousness prose in his prairie trilogy (The Prairie Wife , The Prairie Mother , and The Prairie Child ). Bliss Carman, who was known as The American High Priest of Symbolism,’ and his cousin Charles G. D. Roberts, embraced a cosmopolitan vogue at the time for ‘everything that’s ‘New’’—namely the latest trends out of Europe. Although Carman’s repute as a leading poet was all but demolished by later generations, his early recognition by Ezra Pound has sustained critical interest, principally for his publication of Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics in 1903—a work of ‘imaginative and … interpretive’ free-verse reconstructions that served as an immediate predecessor to the early imagism of the Anglo-American modernists and their celebrated lyric imitations of Sapphic fragments.