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Thematic Essay Topics & Paper Examples

A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature

In Rabelais and His World, the formalist critic Mikhail Bakhtin makes the one reference to Canada that appears in the body of his work. Discussing the French humanist’s comic rendering of Pantagruel’s northwesterly journey to the icy underworld, he points to the various levels of correspondence between Rabelais’s text (itself a parodic reworking of Dante’s Divine Comedy) and Jacques Cartier’s journal account of his 1540 voyage to Canada. It was Cartier’s colonial venture, Bakhtin suggests, that had a particularly complex and important effect on the European imagining of otro mundo: the new world (397-400). For Bakhtin, this effect was felt most tellingly on what might be best described as the implications of the Word in the Old World imagination, for…