Buckler, Ernest (1908–1984) By Dvorak, Marta
Ernest Buckler (1908–1984) was a walking paradox. Born in the bookless society of poor, rural Nova Scotia, he earned a BA in mathematics and philosophy at Dalhousie University and an MA in philosophy at the University of Toronto, alongside Hugh MacLennan and Northrop Frye respectively, before going back to the Annapolis Valley to farm by day and write by night. He is best known for his pastoral first novel, The Mountain and the Valley (1952), which garnered as high critical acclaim in the US and Canada as the novels published concurrently by established American writers, notably John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and Ernest Hemingway’s comeback The Old Man and the Sea. The simultaneous publications illustrate the coexistence of early and late modernisms and their correlation to geopolitical space, notably center and margin. Later hailed as a ‘pioneer in Canadian writing’ by Margaret Laurence and a ‘pathbreaker for the modern Canadian novel’ by Margaret Atwood, Buckler nonetheless refracts the interrogations of modernity beyond national borders and connects with writers and thinkers ranging from Ralph Waldo Emerson to James Joyce, Marcel Proust (see Purdham), and Albert Camus.