Chapter 10
“New Styles of Architecture, A Change of Heart?”: The Architexts of F.R. Scott and A.M. Klein

by D.M.R. Bentley



In “Like an Old Proud King in a Parable” (1943), the symboliste lyric that A.J.M. Smith first published as “Proud Parable” in December 1928 and subsequently used as a prefatory piece in all his collections of poems, the creation of a Modern Canadian poetic persona and stance is closely allied to the creation of a new imaginative place and habitation. In “anger to be gone / From fawning courtier and doting queen,” the “bitter king” of the poem’s opening verse paragraph “break[s] bound of all his counties green” and “ma[kes] a meadow in the northern stone” where he “breathe[s] a palace of inviolable air” (12). Very much an offspring of “the proud dreaming king who flung / The crown and sorrow away” (77) in W.B. Yeats’s “The Secret Rose,” Smith’s “old proud king” is an expression of the Modern poet’s desire to create in and for Canada a poetry remote from the gushiness that F.R. Scott so wittily satirizes in “The Canadian Authors Meet.”1 To juxtapose “Like an Old Proud King in a Parable” with Scott’s poem is to be reminded that the rage for newness that came to Canada with the McGill Group and other Modernists had both a transcendent and a satirical component, a visionary mode directed towards the future and an attack mode aimed at the present. In view of the central role that architecture has always played as an embodiment and signal of change in Western culture, it is scarcely, if at all, surprising that Canada’s Modern poets frequently turned to architectural structures and semiotics in their meditations on the present condition and potential future of Canadian society. For the obvious reason that Smith remained committed to the ideal of pure poetry expressed in “Like an Old Proud King in a Parable” and, moreover, spent most of his creative life in the United States, actual Canadian architectural structures rarely figure in his work. But this is decidedly not the case with Scott and A.M. Klein, both of whom lived in Montreal and wrote extensively about Canada and, especially during the nineteen forties and fifties, produced numerous Canadian architexts.

    Partly because of the prominence accorded to the Report of the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences (Massey Commission) (1951) in most discussions of post-war Canadian culture, it has been easy for students and scholars of Canadian literature to overlook the work of the Federal Advisory Committee on Reconstruction that was created in April 1942 to make recommendations in six areas: agricultural policy, conservation and development of natural resources, publicly financed construction projects, post-war employment opportunities, post-war problems of women, and, most important for the present discussion, housing and community planning. Chaired by C.A. Curtis, a professor of Economics at Queen’s University, the subcommittee on Housing and Community Planning issued its Report in March 1944 to a Canadian public already primed for government action by the League for Social Reconstruction (1932) and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (1933), both of which, of course, counted Scott among their founding members. Citing a “desire ... deeply rooted in the minds of people in all walks of life” for “better housing and better living standards,” the Curtis Committee recommended the implementation of a “housing program of large dimensions” that would utilize “pre-fabrication and mass assembly” (9, 22) as advocated by Le Corbusier in his enormously influential Vers une architecture (1923; trans. 1931) and given practical form in such texts as C. Sjonstrom’s Prefabrication in Timber: a Survey of Existing Methods (1943). 2 Unlike “construction” in today’s critical usage, the term “re-construction” in the years surrounding the Second World War was an expression of the wedding of progressive social and aesthetic ideas that lies at the heart of most strains of Modernist architecture and literature. In W.H. Auden’s words, “a change of heart” was to find expression in new styles of building and writing (7) as architects and writers were urged to join politicians and planners in “restor[ing] dignity” and idealism “to a world scarred by extraordinary inhumanity” (Reed 95).


As good a place as any to begin an examination of the relationship between Klein’s poetry and Canadian architecture is with one of the most striking and intriguing instances of that relationship: “Grain Elevator.” First published in 1948 in The Rocking Chair, and Other Poems and probably written a year or two earlier,3 Klein’s poem stands in a tradition of poetic meditations on the form and significance of a particular artefact that stretches back to and beyond Keats ’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” but it is also a work that is unmistakably Modern in its inspiration and message. This is not just because of the particular architectural structure chosen by Klein – namely, one of the enormous grain elevators on the Montreal waterfront that were built earlier in the century – but also because these very elevators had been made locally and internationally famous before the Second World War by Le Corbusier’s enthusiastic endorsement of their mass and form in Vers une architecture.4 To make his point that the productions of engineers are aligned with “good art” by virtue of their employment of “simple ... geometrical forms” that “satisfy our eyes by their geometry and our understanding by their mathematics,” Le Corbusier includes photographs of Montreal’s grain elevators in Vers une architecture and implies by his surrounding commentary that their effect on the viewer can be spiritual as well as physical:

Architecture ... impresses the most brutal instincts by its objectivity [and] it calls into play the highest faculties by its very abstraction. Architectural abstraction is rooted in hard fact [but] it spiritualizes it, because the naked fact is nothing more than materialization of a possible idea....

·          ·         ·

Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. Our eyes are made to see forms in light; light and shade reveal these forms; cubes, cones, spheres, cylinders or pyramids are the great primary forms which light reveals to advantage.... It is for this reason that these are beautiful forms, the most beautiful forms. Everyone is agreed as to that, the child, the savage and the metaphysician. (25-26, 29)

These and other passages in Vers une architecture resonate loudly enough with the final stanza of “Grain Elevator” to support the conjecture that they provided at least part of the inspiration for Klein’s poem:

A box: cement, hugeness, and rectangles –
merely the sight of it leaning in my eyes
mixes up continents and makes a montage
of inconsequent time and uncontiguous space.
It’s because it’s bread. It’s because
bread is its theme, an absolute. Because
always this great box flowers over us
with all the coloured faces of mankind ...
(Complete Poems 2: 650-51)

Of course, the dialectical relationship between diversity and universality that is figured here in the conception of bread as an “absolute” that sustains people of all races is central to The Rocking Chair volume as a whole,5 but the stanza’s celebration of the grain elevator as a structure whose formal characteristics transcend its particular “time” and “space” smacks strongly of Le Corbusier’s insistence in Vers une architecture and elsewhere that architecture must free itself from history and the local if it is to serve the needs of twentieth-century humanity. For Scott in “Social Notes II, 1935” “grain elevators / Stored with superfluous wheat” and capable of “unload[ing] a grain-boat in two hours” are manifestations of the excessive “efficiency of the capitalist system” (Collected Poems 71). For Klein and Le Corbusier they are manifestations of fundamental and universal human traits and needs.

    Vers une architecture also raises resonances in earlier stanzas of “Grain Elevator.” Immediately after the second of the two passages quoted above, Le Corbusier observes that “Egyptian, Greek or Roman architecture is an architecture of prisms, cubes and cylinders, pyramids or spheres” and proceeds to list several examples: “the Pyramids, the Temple of Luxor, the Parthenon, the Coliseum, Hadrian’s Villa ... the Towers of Babylon, the Gates of Samarkand ... the Pont du Gard, Santa Sophia, the Mosques of Stamboul ...,” and so on (29-31). In the opening stanzas of “Grain Elevator,” Klein also embarks on a wide-ranging search for similar architectural forms: after observing that the grain elevator rises above its surroundings “blind and babylonian / like something out of legend,” he relates it to “some eastern tomb,” to “the ... bastille,” and to a variety of near and far eastern locales and cultures: “here, as in a Josephdream, bow down / the sheaves.... Sometimes it makes me think Arabian ... Caucasian ... Mongolian” (Complete Poems 2: 650). So striking are the conceptual parallels between Vers une architecture and “Grain Elevator” that it is tempting to see something of Le Corbusier’s thinking even in the form of Klein’s poem, a series of four rhymed, eight-line stanzas whose rectangular appearance on the page mimics as well as a traditional poem can the “box ... and rectangles” of the architectural structure that they describe. (Anyone who doubts that Klein was intent on such mimetic effects should ponder his remark that in the statement “Saskatchewan / is rolled like a rug of a thick and golden thread” in the poem’s second stanza “[t]he longest syllabled flat province [is] in monosyllables unfolded” [Complete Poems 2: 1008].)6

    “Grain Elevator” is an especially complex and layered instance of the relationship between and among architecture and architexts that is also evident in other poems in The Rocking Chair volume. In “Lookout: Mount Royal,” for example, Klein recalls “boyhood” excursions to Mount Royal Park but describes the view from the “parapet” there in decidedly adult terms that may also reflect a knowledge of Le Corbusier and other writers on architecture, urban design, and the buildings and layout of Montreal:

... from the parapet make out
beneath the green marine
the discovered road, the hospital’s romantic
gables and roofs, and all the civic Euclid
running through sunken parallels and lolling
in diamond and square, then proud-pedantical
with spire and dome
making its way to the sought point, his home.

home recognized: there: to be returned to –

lets the full birdseye circle to the river,
its singsong bridges, its mapmaker curves, its
island with the two shades of green, meadow and wood;
and circles round that water-tower’d coast....

(Complete Poems 2: 686-87)

These lines are reminiscent of countless eighteenth- and nineteenth-century prospect pieces and, intriguingly, they also recall Pierre de Charlevoix’s description of early eighteenth century Montreal as “a long rectangle,”7 but their most insistent intertext is Wordsworth’s “Sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.” However, where Wordsworth describes London in very general terms (“Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples ... All bright and glittering in the smokeless air” [3:38]), Klein provides enough details to enable buildings to be identified – “the ... romantic / gables and roofs” of the Hotel-Dieu (1860) and the “proud-pedantical / ... spire and dome” of McGill’s Palladian Arts Building (1839, 1862). The fact that Klein was once “nursed ... by the sisters of the Hôtel-Dieu” (Complete Poems 2: 1006)8 and, of course, had close ties with McGill University merely confirms that “Lookout: Mount Royal” is the product of a man who felt profoundly at home in the public spaces as well as in his own personal place in Montreal.

    The impression that Klein was able to construe Montreal in quite other than the orthodox Modern sense of an Eliotic “Unreal City”9 of Durkheimian anomie is confirmed and reinforced in The Rocking Chair volume by such poems as “Pastoral of the City Streets,” “The Snowshoers,” and “Parade of St. Jean Baptiste” in which public spaces become vibrant places where the poet-speaker feels comfortably at home. In “Pastoral of the City Streets” a “friend’s father” pelting neighbourhood children with water from a garden hose temporarily transforms the “geometry” of the street and sidewalk into a “crystal stream ... cavelike and cool” (Collected Poems 2: 695). In “The Snowshoers,” “the street moves with colours” as the snowshoers “snowball their banter below the angular eaves,” and in “The Parade of St. Jean Baptiste” the floats “move as through a garden ... / of flowers, populous / of all the wards and counties” of the city and province (2: 652, 691). As will be seen in a few moments, some of Montreal’s architectural structures provoke expressions of disgust and condemnation in The Rocking Chair, and Other Poems, but far more common in Klein’s responses to the city are feelings of delight, gratitude, and tenderness. Nor is this true only of poems in The Rocking Chair volume or, indeed, of Klein’s poems about Montreal: in “Greeting on This Day,” a poem written in 1929 but not published until 1940, the “white roofs” of Safed in Galilee transform “prose” into poetry and in “Autobiographical,” a poem written circa 1942 and first published in The Second Scroll (1951), the “fabled city” that the speaker seeks in “memory” is the source of a “joy” that is tinged with “sadness” only because it is past (Complete Poems 1: 143; 2: 566).

    Nowhere in Klein’s oeuvre does Montreal figure more as the ideal city of memory and imagination than in the poem in The Rocking Chair for which it provides a title. A linguistic tour-de-force designed to be accessible to both French and English readers, “Montreal” envisages the city as a living museum of its own history that exists as a “Mental” as well as an actual entity, “Travers[ing] [his] spirit’s conjured avenues” and “populat[ing] the pupils of [his] eyes” with its “scenes and sounds” (Complete Poems 2: 621-23). Unlike Le Corbusier, who had famously argued in Urbanisme (1925; trans. 1929) for the complete demolition of existing cities and their replacement by cities based on a single design and suitable to any locale, the Klein of “Montreal” revels in his city’s characteristic trees, distinctive architecture, and allusive cultural semiotics and continuities: “Splendor erablic of your promenades / Foliates there,” he exclaims in the opening stanza, “and there your maisonry / Of pendant balcon and escalier’d march, / Unique midst English habitat, / Is vivid Normandy.”10 With the aid of Gothic fantasy, Montreal’s streets, monuments, and buildings become catalysts to historical memory:

Thus, does the Indian, plumèd, furtivate
Still through your painted autumns, Ville-Marie!
Though palisades have passed, though calumet
With tabac of your peace enfumes the air,
Still do I spy the phantom, aquiline,
Genuflect, mocassin’d, behind
His statue in the square!11

Thus, costumed images before me pass,
Haunting your archives architectural:
Coureur de bois, in posts where pelts were portaged;
Seigneur with his candled manoir; Scot
Ambulent through his bank, pillar’d and vast.12
Within your chapels, voyaged mariners
Still pray, and personage departed,
All present from your past!

In addition to being rich with “permanences” – buildings, artefacts, monuments, and streets that constitute a historical past that can still be experienced (see Rossi 57-58) – Montreal is for Klein a cosmopolitan and industrial city whose distinctiveness partly derives from its hybrid “music”: the “multiple / ... Lexicons” on its “quays,” the “double-melodied vocabulaire” of its English- and French-speaking inhabitants, the daily and weekly rhythms of its “manufactory” and “argent belfries.” A site of both modern commerce and collective or cultural memory, Klein’s Montreal is at once a living museum and a living city.

    It is not until the final stanzas of “Montreal” that the city is fully recognized by Klein as the locus of his cognitive as well as his physical existence and, thus, as the place that more than any other engenders feelings of loyalty, homesickness, and nostalgia. “You are part of me ... You are locale of infancy,” intones the poet as he moves towards his concluding paean to Montreal as the home of his heart and, as such, a place in his heart:

Never do I sojourn in alien place
But I do languish for your scenes and sounds,
City of reverie, nostalgic isle,
Pendant most brilliant on Laurentian cord!
The coigns of your boulevards – my signory –
Your suburbs are my exile’s verdure fresh,
Your parks, your fountain’d parks –
Pasture of memory!

City, O city, you are vision’d as
A parchemin roll of saecular exploit
Inked with the script of eterne souvenir!
You are in sound, chanson and instrument!
Mental, you rest forever edified
With tower and dome; and in these beating valves,
Here in these beating valves, you will
For all my mortal time reside!

Appropriating Eliot’s “O city, city,” Klein reworks the phrase into an expression of affection rather than dismay that is entirely consistent in emotion and attitude with the echo of Wordsworth’s “Westminster Bridge” sonnet (and his own “Lookout: Mount Royal”) that sounds in “tower and dome.” Here as elsewhere in The Rocking Chair, and Other Poems the Montreal that “reside[s]” in Klein’s heart is partly “vision’d” and “script[ed] by Modernism,” but its deeper affinities lie with the “beauteous forms” of the “sylvan Wye” that Wordsworth “fe[els] along the heart” in “Tintern Abbey” (2: 260).13

    This is not to say that Klein (or, indeed, Wordsworth) was blind to the negative aspects of life in the post-industrial cities of Europe, North America, and elsewhere that gave birth to the urban realism of William Hogarth, Friedrich Engels, Charles Dickens, and countless other artists and writers. Surrounding “Lookout: Mount Royal” and “Montreal” in The Rocking Chair volume are numerous poems such as “Commercial Bank,” “Indian Reservation: Caughnawaga,” and “Quebec Liquor Commission Store” in which the social institutions and architectural structures of contemporary Canadian culture occasion dismay and satirical commentary rather than affection and emotive reverie. The marbled and hushed interior of the bank in “Commercial Bank” is in reality a “jungle” in which the “beasts” of capitalism are no less deadly for being “toothless, with drawn nails” (Complete Poems 2:618-19). The Mohawk reserve in “Indian Reservation: Caughnawaga” is not a “home” but a “museum,” a “crypt,” and a “grassy ghetto” in which specimens of an exotic and supposedly vanishing species can do little other than cater to the demands of gawping tourists (Complete Poems 2:242). The nondescript sales area of “Quebec Liquor Commission Store” is “Nonetheless” an Ali Baba’s “cave” whose contents rival Aladdin’s lamp in their power to create illusions and thus perpetuate social inequalities (Complete Poems 2:659). In these and similar poems, Montreal is “vision’d” and “script[ed]” by Klein’s socialism and, hence, seen and written, not as a site of Rossian “permanances” that have become internalized in positive memories and feelings, but as a site of institutions that are so destructive and dehumanizing that they demand radical change.

    The earliest and one of the most scathingly critical architexts in The Rocking Chair, and Other Poems is “Pawnshop,” which was written in about 1942 (thus at approximately the same time as “Autobiographical” and “The Hitleriad”) and bears a deeper imprint than most poems in the volume of the social democratic sensibility that had produced such pieces as “Barricade Smith: His Speeches” (circa 1938) and “Of Castles in Spain” (circa 1937). The final but first-written stanza of “Pawnshop” provides an almost Foucauldian analysis of the power embodied in the “grim house” “Near [the] waterfront, a stone’s throw from the slums” and, thus, from its most vulnerable clients:

This is our era’s state fair parthenon,
the pyramid of a pharaonic time,
our little cathedral, our platonic cave,
our childhood’s house that Jack built. Synonym
of all building, our house, it owns us; even
when free from it, our dialectic grave.
Shall one not curse it, therefore, as the cause,
type, and exemplar of our social guilt?
Our own gomorrah house,
the sodom that merely to look at makes one salt?
(Complete Poems 2:576-7)

This remarkable verse paragraph effectively figures the pawnshop as the paradigm of space arranged on the capitalist principles enunciated by Adam Smith, whose name is in fact mooted earlier in the poem as its “architect” (Complete Poems 2:576). A site of exploitation and incarceration that should have been “razed ... to the salted ground / antitheses ago” (as was Carthage, another centre of rapacious commerce), the pawnshop is a visible testament to the power of “kapital” to make masters of some, slaves of many, and inmates of all (Complete Poems 2:576-577), for, even if they delusively imagine themselves “free,” all members of a capitalist society are metaphorically housed in its structures. The final lines of the poem might seem to suggest that no escape is possible from capitalism’s all-encompassing pawnshop, but, of course, it was only Lot’s wife who was turned to stone by the sight of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 20: Klein’s namesake, Abraham, was able to look “toward all the land of the plain” where the cursed cities lay burning and go on to found a new religion and a new people. In the dialectic of The Rocking Chair, and Other Poems, to look unflinchingly at architectural structures that exemplify the negative aspects of human nature is as important as it is to take to heart those that bespeak humanity’s capacity to build a good and better world.


For much of the century that was supposed to belong to Canada, the locus of Canadian hopes for social renovation was less likely to be a city steeped in history and tradition such as Montreal than the West or the North, two regions scarcely mentioned by Klein but central to the thinking and writing of F.R. Scott from the nineteen twenties to the nineteen fifties. Before the Second World War, Scott, like Smith, saw the North partly through the works of the Group of Seven and their associates as a pristine and all but uninhabited repository of a fresh, vivid, and manifestly Canadian natural beauty. “Child of the North,” Scott urges in “New Paths” (1926),14

Yearn no more after old playthings,
Temples and towers and gates
Memory-haunted thoroughfares and rich palaces
And all the burdensome inheritance, the binding legacies,
Of the Old World and the East.

Here is a new soil and a sharp sun.

(Collected Poems 37)

After the Second World War, however, the focus of Scott’s northern poems shifted from the icy waters and granite river courses that he had celebrated in such poems as “Laurentian” (1927), “Old Song” (1928), and “North Stream” (1930) to the social and economic consequences of the development of the Canadian North that was to become the basis of “a ‘new National Policy’” (Abele 314) in the “Northern Vision” articulated by John Diefenbaker’s Conservatives in the federal elections of 1957 and 1958. In Scott’s pre-war poems, “winds that have swept [the] lone cityless plains” of the North tell principally of “fresh beauty.” In his post-war poems, they herald and document economic growth and new cities.

    An early indication of this shift appears in “Laurentian Shield” (1946) where the silence and emptiness of North are read by an unapologetically masculinist observer as evidence of a desire to be made productive. Envisioning the North as it was, is, and could be from a socialist perspective15 and, with a linguistic metaphor, as an ordinal, Scott sees “Cabin syllables, / Nouns of settlement,” and “steel syntax” where once there were “the cry of the hunter” and the “bold command of monopolies” and where now there is “the drone of the plane scouting the ice, / Fill[ing] the emptiness with neighbourhood / And link[ing] our future over the vanished pole” (Collected Poems 58). The concluding vision of “Laurentian Shield” is of a Canadian North that has been humanized rather than merely exploited:

... a deeper note is sounding, heard in the mines,
The scattered camps and the mills, a language of life,
And what will be written in the full culture of occupation
Will come, presently, tomorrow
From millions whose hands can turn this rock into children.
(Collected Poems 58)

It is a vision curiously tainted by the military-resonances of the world “occupation” and strongly reminiscent of the perception of the Canadian West that drove “Manitoba fever” in the closing decades of the nineteenth century and provided Isabella Valancy Crawford with part of the inspiration for Malcolm’s Katie, one difference between the two being that, regrettably, Scott seems to have been less apprehensive in 1946 than Crawford was in 1884 about the environmental impact of “mines ... camps and ... mills.16

    That Scott perceived homologies between and among poetry, architecture, town planning, and statecraft is nowhere more evident than in the paper entitled “The State as a Work of Art” that he delivered in 1950 in “The Search for Beauty” series of the McGill Department of Architecture.17 After tracing part of the inspiration of “Laurentian Shield” to a “description of the English Black Country” (that is, the industrial Midlands) by Stephen Spender and then reading the poem itself, Scott explains that the “potential social evolution in Canada’s northland is not just a question of economics, but also of aesthetics in the sense that we really can choose the language which shall be the mode of living in this new world”:

Geology has given us the mineral wealth, history has given us the legal title, to this gigantic workshop; our own creative energy, our social imagination, or lack of it, will determine what use we make of this opportunity. Let us hope it does not become another Black Country. If everything man makes and builds is a language, I fear that we Canadians have so far spoken more in prose than poetry. Yet we can create a beautiful social language through our daily work of making and building a society, and in this sense the social order is a work of art and we ourselves are the artists. (9)

Later in the paper, Scott refers admiringly to the American jurist and educator Roscoe Pound, whose concept of “the law [as] ‘social engineering’” provided impetus to the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and hails the TVA itself as a shining example of what can be achieved by “direct[ing] the dynamic forces of society into socially desirable channels”: “it took a region [that was] depopulated and economically depressed ... and by ... building ... dams, producing cheaper power under public ownership ... and above all by teaching people how to live co-operatively, subordinating selfish interest to public welfare, restored the faith of whole communities ... ” (14). “[I]f [the law-maker] is a social engineer, may he not also be called a social architect?” Scott asks; “[i]s [the work of the TVA] not something more than good government and good economics? Is it not more than social justice? Is it not also beautiful in the aesthetic sense of the word? ... And if it can be done in a single community or region, cannot it be done in the state as a whole?” (14). It is but one of many intimations of the Romantic and Victorian underpinnings of Scott’s Modernism that his conception of the lawyer, the politician, the engineer, and the architect as the poets of a progressive society recalls both the Shelleyan notion of the poet as the unacknowledged legislator of the world and the Arnoldian notion of the poet as the physician of the age of iron.

    Six years after he wrote “The State as a Work of Art,” an opportunity for Scott to see for himself whether or not the Canadian North was being developed in a manner that could be described as “beautiful” came by way of an invitation from Michigan State University to deliver a series of lectures on “Canada and Canadian-American relations” (Djwa 318). When Scott and his travelling companion, Pierre Trudeau, flew north from Edmonton in August 1856, Diefenbaker’s “Northern Vision” was still a year in the future, but the pace of northern development had already been accelerating for several years as a result of the Second World War (which, among other things, had led to the construction of the Canol Pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse), the Cold War (which had resulted in the continuation of American military activity in the North), and a number of initiatives by the federal government, including the creation in 1943 of a Department of Mines and Resources, the publication in 1947 of Canada’s New Northwest (a DMR report that “treated the region as an economic unit of potential importance to the national economy” [Abele 314]) and the consequent establishment of an Advisory Committee on Northern Development (1948) and a Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources (1953).18 Scott had good reason to visit the North as preparation for a series of lectures on “Canada and Canadian-American relations.”

    As he flew courtesy of Eldorado Mining and Refining Limited towards Fort Smith, the one-time Hudson’s Bay Company trading post on the Slave River north of Alberta, Scott saw “A huge nowhere / Underlined by a shy railway” and apparently cast his mind back to “Laurentian Shield” for appropriate metaphors: here was an “arena” as “Large as Europe ... Waiting the contest” in “Silence”; here, “Underground,” were “cities sleep[ing] like seeds” with the rocks as their “coins” (that is, their economic wealth and/as their corner-stones) (Collected Poems 223). In the Company’s camp near Fort Smith at Bell Rock, where Scott and Trudeau had to wait for a Northern Transportation Company tugboat to take them downriver to Fort Providence, Scott continued to experience the romance of the Northwest, “dipp[ing] his hand in water / That muddies the Beaufort Sea;” remarking that “The Slave river rolled past / Downhill to the North, / Running away from America / Yet bringing America with it”; chanting the exotic names of the places visited by riverboats (“Radium Dew, Radium Yellowknife, Radium King,” and so on); and proclaiming the human and material cargoes of the boats fluent in “the language” (Collected Poems 224-25). The poem from which all these affirmations are taken, “The Camp at Bellrock,” concludes with a figure for Canadian hybridity that anticipates in its bathetic lack of subtlety the child with one “deep brown” and one “blue” eye that results from the relationship of an English explorer and a Native woman in Rudy Wiebe’s A Discovery of Strangers (1994) (314)

Walking behind the bunk-house
We saw a great white dog,
Long-haired for cold, feet broad for snow,
Standing firm and friendly,
No husky, but mixed with the breed.
Behind him his ugly mother
Slept, a short-haired bitch
Brown and patchy, an import,
Half his size, but source of his power.
So it is in the North
Where opposites meet and mate.
(Collected Poems 225)

In this lamentable passage and elsewhere in the two poems that begin “The Letters from the Mackenzie River” sequence, the architectural structures of northern development – here, the “bunk-house” – are merely imagined or mentioned in passing, but in “Fort Smith” and ensuing pieces they become of central importance as Scott seeks to understand the economic, social, and cultural ramifications of northern development.

    Beginning, significantly, with the sound of the “town siren,” a signal of disaster that causes curious children to “Bound ... like little wolves” to the scene of a supposed fire (it turns out to be a false alarm), “Fort Smith” narrates Scott’s recovery of moral perspective through a recognition of the resemblance between the “gentle Anglican face” of his father, Frederick George Scott, and a local Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Burt Evans (Collected Poems 226). At this point, Scott’s concerted attempt to sound a real alarm at the ramifications of northern development for the region and its peoples plunges the poem into another paroxysm of bathetic over-determination from which, however, it quickly recovers to provide an increasingly disturbing catalogue of the architectural structures that embody the process of economic, religious, bureaucratic, social, and cultural colonization that is underway:

The Rev. Burt Evans
Picked us out as strangers
And offered to show us around
In his new Volkswagen.
So we shoved aside a baby-crib
And filled up the Nazi car
To explore Canada’s colony.
There was the Bank of Commerce
In a new tar-paper bunk-house
Opened six days ago,
The Hudson’s Bay Store and Hotel,
Government Offices, Liquor Store,
RCMP Headquarters, Catholic Hospital,
Anglican and Catholic Churches,
The Imperial Oil Compound,
The Barber Shop and Pool Room,
A weedy golf course, the Curling Club,
And the Uranium Restaurant, full of young people
Playing song-hits on the juke-box.
(Collected Poems 226)

Once identified by the signage of capitalism, a “tar-paper bunk-house” reveals itself for what it is: an architectural structure whose external material – “tar-paper” – embodies the logic of the economic imperialism of which it is a part – the logic, that is, of extractable resources and cheap labour in exchange for expertise, capital investment, manufactured goods, and the various institutions necessary for the process to function in an efficient and “enlightened” fashion: law, health care, religious education, metropolitan culture. Whether serving as a bank, a “guest-house” (“The Camp at Bell Rock”), or a workman’s home (“Steve, the Carpenter”), a “bunk-house” is a manifestation of an alliance between development and consumerism that is powerful enough to determine not only where and how people earn and spend their money, but also where they live, how they relax and conduct themselves, and what they eat, hear, and think. As Scott must already have been becoming painfully aware, the development of the Canadian North was not following the blueprint of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    In the ensuing verse paragraph of “Fort Smith” Scott turns his attention to the racial assumptions and social hierarchies that are manifest the town’s built environment:

We drove on sandy streets.
No names yet, except “Axe-handle Road.”
There was the “native quarter,”
Shacks at every angle
For Slave Indians and half-breeds,
And overlooking the river
The trim houses of the civil servants
With little lawns and gardens
And tents for children to play Indian in.
(Collected Poems 227)

“[T]ents for children to play Indian in” insists too much, but denotation and connotation fuse quite effectively in “Slave Indians,” and Scott’s perception that the local people are treated as inferiors – literally looked down upon – by southern bureaucrats gains in stature through corroboration by Native commentators. “We [saw] how ... the housing provided to us was very inferior,” the one-time President of the Inuit Tapirisat, Michael Amarook, would observe many years later, “[a]nd ... at the same time we saw government employees in ever increasing numbers arriving in our communities and being provided with high quality housing, with running water, furniture and lots of space, often at lower rents ... ” (qtd. in Robson 18).19 That it was a southern perception of the cultures and therefore needs of northern Natives that determined the levels of housing observable in Fort Smith is an obvious enough point that Scott brings home later in the poem by having the Reverend Evans explain, not without regret, that a shrine to the Virgin Mary near the Roman Catholic church “‘has an appeal ... / To the superstitious element in the population’” (Collected Poems 227).20 No more than the bureaucrats and the corporations is the Catholic church exempted from Scott’s charges of racist imperialism and condescension. “Fort Smith” ends with the well-known vignette of Trudeau stripping himself naked, walking into a rapid, and

Standing white, in whiter water,
Leaning south up the current
To stem the downward rush,
A man testing his strength
Against the strength of his country.
(Collected Poems 227)

Djwa is right in hearing an echo of “the romantic nationalism of the twenties” in these lines (324) but surely the lines also imply that Trudeau has the ability to resist the potentially devastating power of the south-north (black gold) “rush” whose negative effects are chronicled earlier in the poem.

    To a greater or lesser extent, the poems that follow “Fort Smith” in “Letters from the Mackenzie River” display the same combination of insight and lugubriousness as they further chronicle the manifestations and ramifications of the flow of people and materials into and out of the North. Surrounded by “pin-ups” and family photograph albums in “Steve, the Carpenter,” Steve Bard laments his loneliness in terms tellingly reminiscent of the juke-box (“‘Sometimes I get so lonely I could cry’”) while outside his bunk-house the Slave River, now a correlative for his status as well as his loneliness, “roll[s] on, / Farther and farther from home” (Collected Poems 228-9). On a “tug ... dedicated / To a single purpose – / Pushing freight in the Territories,” in “The Radium Yellowknife,” “George Bouvier the Pilot” is a Métis whose “father came from the Red River by canoe / And married into the Lafferty’s [sic] at Providence” (Collected Poems 232). In the galley on the same tug in the same poem, Grace Fischer, the “sole woman aboard,” “utters her soul in pastry” and “reads long letters from daughters / Who are peopling the world ‘outside’” (Collected Poems 233). Like Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Town down the River, the communities on the Slave in “Letters from the Mackenzie River” contain characters who are of interest because they exhibit certain psychological traits or cultural qualities, in Scott’s case those that dispose individuals to live and work in the North and thus to participate in one way or another and more or less harmfully in its colonization and development.

    In sharp contrast to Scott’s relatively sympathetic portraits of Steve Bard, George Bouvier, Grace Fischer, and the Reverend Burt Evans is his depiction of Father Denis, “an Oblate from Rennes, Brittany,” in “Fort Providence,” the poem named for the small community on the Mackenzie River that came into existence in the nineteenth century because of the presence of an HBC trading-post and a Roman Catholic mission (Collected Poems 230). “Young, cheerful,” and informal, Father Denis seems benign enough until he shows his visitors over the Catholic mission school, a building “four storeys high, / Grey, square, isolate, / More fortlike than anything in Fort Providence,” and at least as implicated as any other corporate or bureaucratic entity in the business of colonization. Writing about the nineteen fifties in The Government of Canada and the Inuit, 1900-1967, Richard Diubaldo observes that, despite the fact that “[i]n 1955 the federal government announced a new educational programme for the Northwest Territories after reaching certain understandings and agreements with the Roman Catholic and Anglican [C]hurches,” the missionaries continued to provide “the bulk of educational services” in the North, a situation that was distressing to people in the Department of Indian Affairs “who may have been suspicious of missionaries or held a low view of their teaching abilities” (150-51). That Scott shared this distress is abundantly evident from the remainder of “Fort Providence,” where the priests and nuns of Father Denis’s school are roundly condemned, first for the promulgation of American corporate propaganda, then for their abominable teaching, and finally for their aggressive proselytizing: “In the entrance hall / Walt Disney illustrations for the Kleenex Company21.... Priests from France, nuns from Quebec, / [Teaching] Slaves (who still speak Indian) / Grades I to VIII, in broken English.... Everywhere religious scenes, / Christ and Saints, Stations of the Cross, / Beads hanging from nails, crucifixes ... ” (Collected Poems 230-31).

    As repellant to Scott was the almost complete neglect of Canadian and Native cultures in the educational programme of the Oblate mission school: “Silk-screen prints of the Group of Seven” provide glimpses of the Canadian landscape, but “No map of Canada or the Territories” is anywhere to be seen, and “crayon drawings and masks / Made by the younger children” are “The single visible expression / Of the soul of these broken people” (Collected Poems 231). In the final lines of the poem, the mission school is recognized as less “fort-like” than prison-like:

Upstairs on the second storey
Seventy little cots
Touching end to end
In a room 30’ by 40’
Housed the resident boys
In this firetrap mental gaol.

By the end of “Fort Providence,” the architectural structure in which the mission school is housed has become the outward and visible sign of an educational programme whose primary goal – the purgation of one culture and the inculcation of another – is eerily similar to the processes of extraction and imposition at work in the Imperial Oil Compound and the Uranium Restaurant in “Fort Smith.”

    Despite the fact that the Northern Transportation Company tug that transported Scott and Trudeau downriver from Fort Smith was engaged in the same business (and, indeed, “burn[ed] diesel oil / Pumped at Norman Wells / And so live[d] off the land” (Collected Poems 232], it is largely exempt from the ideological criticism directed at other targets, the reason apparently being that, more than any other entity encountered in the North, it resembles a socialist society. On its “upper-deck” strolls a representative of the era’s most celebrated welfare state, “A wise old Swede”22 named Captain Svierson who wears “No braid” and below him is George Rush, a “talkative man” who “Jollies the crew along” (Collected Poems 232). In short, “Nobody seems to give orders, / Yet everyone knows what to do.” Even the external appearance of George Bouvier, the Métis pilot, and Grace Fischer, the soulful pastry cook, seem to reflect a sense of near-utopian well-being: Bouvier’s face is “As wild and gentle as riverlands seen from a plane” and Fischer, although a “Mother of nine,” “look[s] thirty-five” (Collected Poems 232-33). Certainly, the microcosm of society aboard “The Radium Yellowknife” appears to draw from each of its crew members according to his or her abilities and, in return, to reward each with a sense of respect and dignity that is denied to the majority of northerners by the hierarchies of the federal bureaucracy, the mission schools, and the extractive industries.

    As “The Radium Yellowknife” nears Norman Wells (which has the distinction of being “the first settlement in the N[orth] W[est] T[erritories] to be established entirely as a result of non-reversible resource development” [Pool]), the ideological ideal and satirical norm represented by the community on the tug is brought to bear with clumsy stridency on the extractive activities and proprietorial attitudes of such companies as Imperial Oil (a subsidiary since 1898 of Standard Oil):

Now we see tanks of oil
Standing white on the rocks
Amid stacks of cans and drums.
The first industrial wealth
Marked by Mackenzie himself –
Power and light and heat
For whatever the uses of man.
Bringing out Yellowknife gold
And the burning ore from Port Radium,
Driving the tugs and planes
And keeping the bureaucrat snug.
·          ·         ·
Curing in toward shore
We read on a kind of gallows
In the utterly public land
Behind is its counterpart:
Trespassers! In the North!
Man is the absent fact
Man is the aim and need
Man is the source of wealth
But Property keeps him out.
And the Indians wonder, who first
Lived off this soil
And now are outcast and dying
As their substance is drained away.
(Collected Poems 233-34)

As Djwa has observed, this passage is “full of politics” (330), not least but certainly most subtly in its deployment of metaphors of hanging (“a kind of gallows”) and blood-letting (“their substance ... drained away”) to figure the deadly and vampiric effects on the Native peoples of the (American) extractive industries. “Norman Wells” ends, somewhat lamely, by naming a white man, Jimmy O’Brien, who was also a victim of Imperial Oil (this time in collusion with Canadian Pacific Airways) and by suggesting that if the “bomb on Hiroshima” had not hastened the end of the Second World War the depletion of the Norman Wells oil fields through the Canol pipeline would have completely exhausted “this Canadian wealth” (Collected Poems 234). In the last poem that Scott wrote during or immediately after his Northern tour of 1956, “Norman Wells to Aklavik,” the onslaught against American and Canadian corporations continues with a jibe at CPA for “Exact[ing] a first-class fare / Plus an extra charge / To prove its monopoly power” (Collected Poems 235).

    Scott’s conviction that corporate and bureaucratic insensitivity were killing the Canadian North and its peoples reemerges architecturally in the penultimate poem in the “Letters from the Mackenzie River” sequence, “A New City: E3,” which was begun in 1956 but not completed until 1970.23 Here “Indian and Eskimo watch / The slow, inescapable death / Of this land which has waited so long / For the sentence already pronounced” as “America’s overspill / Invades the tundra and lakes / Extracting, draining away, / Leaving a slum behind ... Like brown water on snow” (Collected Poems 236). Neither entirely accurate nor merely figurative, the word “slum” in these lines provides an imagistic transition to Scott’s heavily ironical assessment of Inuvik or, as it was initially known, E-3, the settlement on the Mackenzie Delta that was constructed in the late ‘fifties to replace Aklavik, which had come under threat from erosion:

But wait! A new city is planned.
Across from Aklavik’s mud,
Free from the perma-frost,
Set upon solid rock,
Blue-printed, pre-fab, precise,
A model, a bureaucrat’s dream.
(Collected Poems 236)

Following this round condemnation of a bureaucratically driven scheme that owed more than a little to Le Corbusier’s championship of planned cities and mass-produced houses in Vers une architecture and elsewhere, Scott turns his irony on “The first Council meeting / North of the Arctic Circle,” an event that he and Trudeau witnessed in E-3/Inuvik in September 1956. Disdainfully and “‘mischievous[ly]’”24 observing that “No Indian or Eskimo face” was visible at the ceremony, he dismisses the laws ratified by the Council as “Pre-cast in Ottawa” and, as such, homologous with the “pre-fab” buildings of E-3 and imbricated with the other imported structures represented by the two other witnesses at their ratification: “a priest in a black soutane, / And the RCMP in its braid” (Collected Poems 236). The remainder of the poem draws an incautious parallel between the continuation of the ceremony without a Mace because the boat carrying it had run “aground / Crossing the Delta” and the continuation of the British Parliament without the Great Seal because it had been “dropped in the Thames / By a fleeing Jacobite King” to make two plonkingly sophomoric points: “Symbols are magic, and work / As well in idea as in fact” and a gap “in ... ritual” can be “Covered by common sense” (Collected Poems 237). Fortunately, the sequence does not end on that note, but instead with “Mackenzie River” (1963),25 the final lines of which succeed brilliantly in investing the river and the North with poignant cultural significance:

A river so Canadian
    it turns its back
        on America

The Arctic shore
    receives the vast flow
        a maze of ponds and dikes

In land so bleak and bare
    a single plume of smoke
        is the scroll of history.

(Collected Poems 239)

That the “plume” of Scott’s penultimate line evokes the “feathers ... in the helmet of an adventurous knight” as well as “Indian smoke signals” and the French word for “pen” (Djwa 331) is almost to be expected, for in “Mackenzie River” distance has restored enchantment and romance to the North by rendering invisible the architectural evidences of alien exploitation that had occasioned so much of the satire and irony of the preceding “Letters.”26 Those evidences had been registered and understood for what they were, however, and, despite the regressive conclusion of “Mackenzie River,” the North would never again be seen by Scott as a “scroll” upon which a brighter future would be inscribed.

    Of course, “Letters from the Mackenzie River” are not the last poems in which Scott combines architectural observation and social or political commentary. Less than a year after returning from his northern tour in September 1956, he revisited his long-standing hostility to William Lyon Mackenzie King (who died in 1950) in “W.L.M.K.,” a mordant satire whose fragmentary form serves as a fitting reflection not only of King’s deformation of Canada (“We had no shape / Because he never took sides / And no sides / Because he never allowed them to take shape”), but also of the collection of “ruins” that he assembled on his estate near Ottawa (and which are themselves surely a manifestation of his fixation on “longevity” and on lost objects of desire, particularly his mother).27 In the ensuing years, Scott continued to find food for thought and poetry in architectural structures and built environments. “What is it makes a church so like a poem?” he asks in “Unison” (1963): “The inner silence – spaces between words?”, “The ancient pews set out in rhyming rows ... ?” (Collected Poems 138). His full answer – that it is the “unfolding of the heart / That lifts us upward in a blaze of light / And turns a nave of stone or page of words / To Holy, Holy, Holy without end” – is a message repeated many times over in increasingly ecumenical and humanistic terms in his works of the ’sixties and ’seventies – in his perception of the “great temples and tombs” of Asia, Europe, North Africa and South America as empty “shells” that reverberate with “the old far sound / Of tides in this human sea” in “Journey” (1962), in his affirmation of the power of human love to “bridge” divisions and create unity in “Place de la Concorde” (1969), and in his unflagging conviction, first fully articulated in 1950 in “The State as a Work of Art,” that “beauty” is a term that can and should be applied to society as well as art (Collected Poems 128, 158-59).

    In Vers une architecture, Le Corbusier confronts his “epoch” with a stark choice: “Architecture or Revolution”: either address society’s problems through “building” or allow the “alarming symptoms” of social discontent to erupt into violence (265, 288-89). Neither Scott nor Klein had such faith in the power of architecture per se to remedy society’s ills, but clearly both poets perceived architectural structures and built environments as, in some instances, manifestations of deep-seated social problems and, in others, contributions to their inhabitants’ sense of connectedness with one another and with the external world. Whether repressive or comforting, dismaying or heartening, the Canadian buildings, towns, and cities that figure in the architexts of Scott, Klein, and other Modern Canadian poets are products of the “epoch” that has come to be known as the short twentieth century. Inspired by actual entities that, in most cases, are still available for referencing, they are also – to quote Klein’s “Montreal” again – “Mental” and textual reminders of those fraught and terrible years between the First World War and the demolition of the Berlin Wall when horror and anxiety about human beings’ newly manifest capacity for inhumanity and destructiveness generated perhaps unprecedented levels of dismay at the current state of things, nostalgia for a better past, and hope for a better future. At the close of the final prose poem in Italo Calvino’s La Cita invisibli (1972), Marco Polo counters the Great Khan’s contention that civilization is drawing ever-closer to “the infernal city” by urging him to recognize that the “inferno of the living ..., if there is one, ... is what is already here ... where we live today” and to adopt an attitude of “constant vigilance and apprehension” that will enable him to “recognize who and what ... are not inferno” and “then [to] make them endure, give them space” (165). It is advice that A.M. Klein and F.R. Scott had already followed.

A.M. Klein, “Stranger and Afraid”

During the period between the publication of The Hitleriad (1944) and The Rocking Chair, and Other Poems (1948) when he was writing and revising the poems about Montreal that were collected in the latter volume, Klein began work on the Dostoevskyan, Joycean, and Kafkaesque novel of alienation entitled “Stranger and Afraid” that remained unfinished at his death in 1972 and almost unknown until its publication in his Notebooks: Selections from the A.M. Klein Papers in 1944. Narrated by a convict named Drizen (“Thirteen”) who has been imprisoned in Montreal’s Bordeaux Jail for a “mysterious, unknown crime,” “Stranger and Afraid” contains “vivid recollections” and observations of Montreal that, as Zailig Pollock suggests in his Introduction to The Notebooks, “constitute the most elaborate description of the city in Klein’s work” and the “counterpart of the Montreal poems in The Rocking Chair” (xi-xii). Of special interest here for their extraordinarily perceptive and imaginative responses to Montreal’s architectural structures and built environment are three portions of Drizen’s narrative: his account of travelling in a van from the Montreal Court House (Palais de Justice) “a few blocks” from the eastern shore of Montreal Island to Bordeaux Jail near the opposite shore, his description of the Jail itself, and his imaginary “superimposition ... [of] the cartographic outlines of the Island” on the floor of his cell as an exercise in mnemonics (Notebooks 63, 87).

    As he is transported from east to west “across the whole length of [Montreal] Island” in “a large coffin-like vehicle” with no windows, Klein’s Underground Man experiences the heightening of intellectual and imaginative awareness that can sometimes accompany sensory deprivation. Unable to “make out the route” that the van is following or to see the passing cityscape, he ponders the “ingenious paradox” of being “bound” and yet in motion and attempts “at least to catch [Montreal’s] vagrant sounds” and from them deduce his location in “the impersonal city which he love[s]” (Notebooks 63). As well as being a variation on the imaginative return to scenes of alienation that is characteristic of Underground Men, the result is akin to psychogeography in its evocation of the physical and psychological ambiance of the city in the mid-’forties. As Drizen recounts his enforced and sightless journey across Montreal, the city streets are figured as an animal that sounds by turns aggressive (“growling”) and peaceable (“purring”), friendly and alienating:

Now ... we are travelling over one of the older streets, the cobbles gabble with antiquity. Now we have approached an intersection – the brakes have screeched, and the van has hunched and slowed down.... We are on a tram-route now, and the round rumble of steel growling announces a streetcar travelling by. Now we are travelling upon asphalt, the sound is the sound of the purring intimacy of rubber and macadam. The voices of children: Les Prisonniers, Les Prisonniers. This must be the East End, and our passing a daily interruption of the children’s play. They must wait for it, as for the iceman’s wagon, the baker’s horse. And then a quiet street, and the voices of women as across a clothesline. An intersection again; the honk of a horn, and a truckdriver’s curse. A long stretch, and not smooth riding; I can hear the crunch of clods of ice, thrown on the road to melt. (Notebooks 63).

To exploit the capacity of sounds to provoke memories and feelings in this sequence of sharply realized observations, Klein draws on his knowledge and experience of Montreal to give Underground Man a distinctively Canadian location and identity and to convey a vivid sense of Montreal as an “impersonal” metropolis that is nevertheless intimately known because it has been lived in by Drizen and now lives within him. As the journey towards Bordeaux Jail continues, the number of turns made by the van destroys Drizen’s ability to “name ... streets” and “surmise direction” so he “give[s] up eavesdropping on the outer world” and reconciles himself to the “riddlesome and labyrinthine” “darkness and bewilderment” of Modernity for which his imprisonment is clearly a metaphor. It is part of the brilliance and power of “Stranger and Afraid” that it presents Drizen as a man in the process of becoming an outsider (étranger) and thus renders the situation of the alienated Modern Self as a loss rather than a fact, a cause for regret as well as documentation.

    In the ensuing paragraphs, the “native city” (Notebooks 68) that emerges from Drizen’s recollections after his incarceration in the Bordeaux Jail is both a home place and the place of his home, a Montreal of ethnic zones and racist texts, physical boundaries and psychological assaults, to which, as Jews, he, his family, and his friends are continually exposed. Here Montreal is an aggregation of “districts” in Kevin Lynch’s sense of “medium-to-large sections of the city … which the observer mentally enters ‘inside of,’ and which are recognizable as having some common, identifying character” (47), in this instance, race. Notice especially the way in which, near the end of Drizen’s recollections, racism causes him to postpone his reading of poetry and to see the ethnic group of which he is a member as grotesque, threatening, and vulnerable to obliteration:

On our way home, we have to pass the streets where the Frenchies live. At the corner a group of boys, somewhat older than ourselves, stands scrutinizing us. Suddenly ... they burst out in song: Meestah with da wheeskas! Meestah with the wheeskahs! We hurry on, afraid.... Safely away from them, on the other side of the ghetto boundary, we turn back, and yell: Pea-soup! French pea-soup!

·          ·         ·

    At the corner of St. Denis and Ste. Catherine, I have just bought, at the French bookstore, Les Fleurs du Mal. I am waiting for the streetcar home, and in the meantime I read the large type on the newspapers suspended outside the corner kiosk.... On [the] cover [of Le Chameau] there is displayed an ugly cartoon – a frightened female, scrolled Quebec, and a leering Jew hovering over her, all nose and lechery. La verité, ... says [the newspaper vendor], pour cinq sous. I give him his nickel for the truth. I will read this before the poetry.
    I am walking with my father to the synagogue.... We arrive and find that the door of the synagogue is scribbled over with all kinds of symbols and graffiti. In the centre is a double triangle, a swastika superimposed upon it, as if to cancel it out. (Notebooks 68-69)

Looking back on these and other manifestations of racism, Drizen at first attempts to dismiss them as “anomalies” but then recognizes that he has so internalized them that they have become a major component of his identity as a fearful stranger:

[A]s I pause to consider my Self, myself, the focus taken from off my environment, I am amazed to discover that these things have never passed through my consciousness, as through a sieve, at all, at all. They cling to my mind, and at the most unwelcome moments reveal themselves in the strangest forms. I meet a casual acquaintance on the street, engage in conversation, and am soon embarrassingly aware that he is talking too loud, his thoughtways, his inflections are objectionably Jewish. Objectionable to whom? I shudder at the revelation: objectionable to me.... I walk into a room, and unintentionally and unknowing gravitate towards my own – it is I who make the ghetto bench. A horrible dialectics has taken place. The hater has converted the hated. (Notebooks 70-71)

In recognizing that the “Self” is not separate from its “environment” but to a significant extent a product of it, Drizen uses a terminology of emanation, reflection, and convergence – “the focus taken from off” – that indicates the complexity of the process of transference that he finally labels “[a] horrible dialectics.” The “Self” that Drizen “pause[s] to consider” is as immaterial as an effect of light – but an effect of light whose trajectory and intensity have been determined by its situation within the physical and psychic space of a city demarcated both spatially and textually by modern racism.

    The description of Bordeaux Jail28 that constitutes the architectural epicentre of “Stranger and Afraid” has as its historical and textual context not only the racism of mid-’forties Montreal, but also the black hole in human nature that led to the Holocaust. In “Portrait of the Poet as Landscape,” the archetypal Modern poet imagines himself “Set apart, / ... with special haircut and dress, / as on a reservation” and in “Indian Reservation: Caughnawaga” the Iroquois reserve near Montreal is figured as “a grassy ghetto, and no home” in which the inmates and their culture are all but extinct (Complete Poems 2: 637, 642). In “Stranger and Afraid,” Drizen describes Bordeaux Jail as seen from the outside as an enormous and utterly opaque site of nullity and seeks metaphors in the realm of the inhuman to render its “ugly geometry”: it is “like some huge and carapaced monster, motionless in the sun”; its “ponderous dome” is “like a heavy leaden weight” that is “held down” by “the cupped hand of a giant”; its “solidity and weight” invite the thought that “some eccentric architect had thought to design the model dwelling-place for the force of gravity,” that force whose “gape” human aspiration continually attempts to “defy,” whether physically, poetically, or spiritually (Notebooks 79; Complete Poems 2: 638). No less than the Pritzker Prize-winning Austrian architect Hans Hollein (1934- ) Klein was apparently struck by the “enigmatic and sinister metaphoric power of large structures set in a rural or a wild landscape” (Rykwert, The Idea of a Town [x]), a combination that prompted Thomas Moore in 1804 to liken Quebec City to “a hog in armour upon a bed of roses” (Letters 1: 79).29 The Jail’s “walls, pierced only by ... regularly placed slits, seem black as if of some metal, all else is implacable blankness,” continues Drizen, and

the dome, the dome again, it suffocated thought; and then the outer walls, thick, impenetrable, not to be climbed, a cement negation. The intrusion upon our view [when driving towards the Laurentian Mountains], sudden, and in ... bucolic surroundings so unexpected, of this bastille oppressed us; its stone, its steel, its cement dungeoned our spirits; we felt as if in the midst of density itself, encased in the heart of some irrefragable tremendous solidarity. We sped on, across the bridge ... onto the highway; in a few moments we ... gave ourselves over to a full enjoyment of the more splendid and less terrifying dome which extended all above us. (Notebooks 79)

A structure intended to communicate feelings of fear and security30 – fear of crime and punishment and security from knowing that its inmates cannot escape – the Bordeaux Jail does more in this passage than temporarily curtail the freedom and expansiveness of Drizen and his companion as they head for the open road and the Laurentian Mountains. Like a vast, man-made gravitational device, it draws matter and thought down and into itself in a nullification so monstrous, so nearly complete, and so seemingly inhuman as to beggar description and defy explanation, except as a simulacrum of the “impenetrable” “negation” that Drizen never names: the concentration camps, the gas chambers, and the ovens of the Holocaust.

    In the second of two paragraphs on Bordeaux Jail whose suggestive density matches the density attributed to the structure itself, Drizen contrasts his response to the prison from the outside to his experience of it as a prisoner. Besides indicating a full understanding on Klein’s part of the “central-inspection principle” from which Jeremy Bentham developed the notion of the panopticon (Works 4:40),31 the penal structure brought to prominence in postmodern thought by Michel Foucault’s Surveiller et Punir: naissance de la prison (1975; trans. 1977), the description of the interior of Bordeaux Jail takes the reader further into the consciousness of a an individual who, like his ancestors in Dostoyevsky and Kafka, has been forced to exist in and yet without both community and solitude:

... now that I am ... within this solid brick interred, it is not all its heaviness which is my burden. On the contrary, it is the systematic and designed transparency of this place – yes, transparency – which afflicts me. I realize now that the dome was no dome, but a bell-jar under which might be viewed, as by a passionless scientist, the insects that lie beneath it, and vainly crawl up its walls. Indeed, in the very hub from which the six spokes of the prison extend, there sits a turnkey; there he is placed so that he may at will have look-out upon all the sides of his hexagonal domain. This point of advantage is called a panoptikon, an all-seeing Eye; like God’s. No one can pass along or across any of the these extending corridors without being spied by the watchful overseer. He sees everything. His agents and subordinates, moreover, stroll along these self-same corridors, and peer, as the inclination prompts them, into our cells. They are made of stone and steel, for exit; for entrance, for inspection, they are all lucidity. One is isolated, but one is never alone; always a pair of eyes is on its way to catch you in seclusion’s occupations, shameful or innocent. If that is not enough, your very thoughts are subjected to close censorious scrutiny, and, when they think necessary, deleted. So they look at you from on top, and they look at you from the side – this is not a mortared tomb, but a glass case.
    I am a smear on a slide of a microscope. (Notebooks 79-80)

The effect of what Bentham calls “the apparent omnipresence of the inspector” (4: 45) is thus a “systematic” and progressive dehumanization that leaves the “I” intact but emptied, minified, and almost as two dimensional as the caricatures in Le Chameau. Taken together, Drizen’s responses to Bordeaux Jail from the outside and from the inside reflect Klein’s recognition in the wake of the Holocaust that “transparency” within opacity – total control and “lucidity” within an utterly dark and “impenetrable” structure – furnishes authority with the means and the opportunity to view people as “insects,” to scrutinize and erase “thoughts,” to reduce the “Self” to a “smear.” The Bordeaux Jail of “Stranger and Afraid” is tied referentially to a prison complex on Montreal Island, but its dark psychic energies also flow from other “model dwelling-places for the force of gravity” such as those in the woods near Auschwitz and Treblinka and Buchenwald.32

    A few paragraphs before Drizen’s narrative descends into Joycean wordplay and then breaks off, he renders Montreal and the past present in his cell by engaging in what he calls “the game of superimposition”:

Given the area of the cell as the size of ... [a] map I superimpose thereon the cartographic outlines of the Island of Montreal. It fits – nine miles wide, twenty-seven miles long. Here is the Back River, as indeed, there it is; here the city of Westmount – self-contained houses, flower-beds, cellar-garages; and here Sherbrooke Street full of nursemaids wheeling perambulators and gentlemen walking canes. A quiltwork, patched and parallelogrammed, with the city’s wards: Laurier, Ste. Cunegonde, Ahuntsic, Mercier, Montcalm, Villeray, St. Jean Baptiste, Notre Dame de Grace, Papineau, Cremazie. My world, my cosmos. The quadrature of the globe. All time and space within my cubits four. (Notebooks 87)

Having laid out this aide-de-mémoire and conjured up his city through the romance of its place names, Drizen retuns in imagination to three psychologically charged and potentially cathartic settings in his mappemounde: “the cemetary of the Chevra Thillim Linath Hatzedek” where “four feet underground [his] father lies,” “Fletcher’s field” on Mount Royal where he and a friend “sat down, and hung [their] coats upon a crabapple tree,... and snoozed ..., and dreamed,” and the Montreal “Art Gallery” where “in Maia’s month” the “barbaroi” did “chatter and lalagate ... enchiridion in hand” (Notebooks 88). Entered by way of a psychogeographical map, Drizen’s Montreal is here a place haunted not only by memories of people, but also by texts that in some cases – The Waste Land, the Oxford English Dictionary, and, of course, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake are in turn haunted by other texts. (For example, “four feet underground my father lies” may be a direct echo of The Tempest or an echo of The Waste Land, as is “we sat down, and hung our coats upon a crabapple tree.”) The sense that both narrator and author are slipping into an insanity characterized by detachment from reality and verbal obsession becomes inescapable when an allusion to Samuel Butler’s “Psalm of Montreal” provides the pretext,33 first for the contemptuous (and Eliotic) attack on chattering gallery-goes that was quoted a moment ago and then for the logorrhoeac (and Joycean) diatribe with which “Stranger and Afraid” moves towards silence:

    O georgic, bucolic, architectonic, this patria is no country for art. Pragma & Gasteropragma – this the bride Kalla, that the sister Agatha. Numismatic is the true hedonic. Along galactic marble they walk – the patrons – through hyaline corridors, accomplishing a rite. Gemmadactylate towards glucosity; to callipyginous marmour [    ]. Their rhetoric is of the morphology Kanadian: hyperborean landscape with dryads anemonate; zeugmic hippos at hespertime; halcyon biograph; the oneiratic West; Lake Superior brontapoplect; portrait of the archon of the Kappa Pi Rho.
    They admire; but anaesthetes, psilaformal is their panegyric. Not this their sarcocarp; unpragmatic. The dolytrichose – for them these ikons and chormes. For them the hoi phalloi, the proctoscopists – these gluteal petrifactions, alpha and omega, genesis and eschatology. But not for heroes and athletes [    ] (Notebooks 88-89)

Anything like a complete unpacking of this pastiche with variations from Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, and in one instance (“portrait of the archon of the Kappa Pi Rho”) Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man would take several paragraphs and would probably be more trouble than warranted or necessary, for surely its gist is clear enough: the people of Kanadia (spelt with a K like Marx’s “Kapital” and Kafka’s “Amerika”) are too rural, provincial, rigid, practical, hedonistic, materialistic, and backward to appreciate art and beauty, specifically the Modern art and sophisticated classicism that are valorized both in the passage’s Joycean word-play and in its esoteric allusions.34 The passage as a whole is the cry of a Modernist, a Socialist, and an Aesthete in the wilderness of the Canadian Goths and Philistines, and, of course, it gains poignancy from the slide into silence and suicide that it seems to prefigure. Here in the madness of proliferating meanings lies a marker on the road of Canadian Modernism that led some writers from the “difficult, lonely music” (12) of A.J.M Smith’s “Like an Old Proud King in a Parable” to the dark hole at the centre of the short twentieth century that claimed first Klein’s voice and then his life.


  1. For a discussion of “Like an Old Proud King in a Parable” in the context of other Canadian manifestations of what David Trotter has called “paranoid modernism,” see D.M.R. Bentley, “Psychoanalytical Notes.” The notion that poetry should be pure in the sense of above morality and social relevance would have reached Smith by various channels in the nineteen twenties, including George Moore’s Pure Poetry: an Anthology (1924) and Henri Brémond’s La Poésie pure (1926). For a discussion of the echoes of Yeats in “Like an Old Proud King in a Parable” see I.S. MacLaren’s “The Yeatsian Presence....” [back]
  2. See the chapter entitled “Mass-production Houses” in Vers une architecture/Towards a New Architecture, particularly (in the translation) 234-36: “[o]ne thing leads to another, and as many cannons, airplanes, lorries and wagons had been made in factories, someone asks the question: ‘Why not make houses?’ There you have a state of mind really belonging to our epoch. Nothing is ready, but everything can be done.... In the next twenty years ... [d]wellings, urban and suburban will be enormous and square-built and no longer a dismal congeries; they will incorporate the principle of mass production and of large-scale industrialization.” Sjostrom’s Prefabrication in Timber is one of the architectural works mentioned in the appendix on “Prefabrication and Building Techniques” (see 297n) in the Report of the Curtis Commission, the others being Arthur C. Holden’s “Prefabrication” in the Review of the Society of Residential Appraisers and A. Bruce’s and H. Sandbank’s A History of Prefabrication. [back]
  3. The compositional dates of Klein’s poems are based on those provided or conjectured by Zailig Pollock in his magisterial edition of the Complete Poems. [back]
  4. As Joshua Wolfe observes in “Architectural Heritage: More than Preserving Old Buildings,” “Grain Elevator No.2, at the foot of Place Jacques Cartier [in Montreal], acquired international fame when the Swiss architect Le Corbusier included a photograph of it in his seminal work Vers une architecture” (146). Both Grain Elevator No. 1 and Grain Elevator No. 2 were demolished in the nineteen eighties, the latter, as Wolfe observes, “not only because some considered it ugly, but also because it was out of scale with Place Jacques Cartier and blocked the view of the St. Lawrence River” (149). In “Marina” (1989) Cyril Dabydeen (1945- ) regards “grain / Elevators” apparently encountered on the shore of Lake Superior, perhaps at Thunder Bay, as “All Romanesque” and therefore evocative of “Hadrian’s Wall,” a seeming misconstrual of the term “Romanesque” as Roman (Coastland 68-69). [back]
  5. For discussions of Klein’s dialectics, see Pollock, A.M. Klein: the Story of the Poet 151-58, 160-63, 175-79, 243-49, and elsewhere and Bentley “Klein, Montreal, and Mankind.” [back]
  6. Klein’s mimetic use of form is further discussed in Bentley, The Gay]Grey Moose 31-32, 201-09, and 214-15. In “The Poetry of A.M. Klein” 62-63, Noreen Golfman quotes Klein’s comparison of Petrarchan sonnets to the “self-contained cottages” of “suburbia” in an early notebook as an anticipation of the “his preoccupation with spatial arrangement in [his] later work, especially in The Rocking Chair poems.” [back]
  7. After quoting Charlevoix’s observation in Building a House in New France, Peter N. Moogk comments that “[a]fter the irregularity of Quebec and Trois-Rivières, Montreal appeared orderly and regular, even if the streets within the town were not really regular” (14). Joseph Bouchette echoes Charlevoix in describing the “form” of Montreal as “a prolonged square” (British Dominions 1:215), and Howard of Glossop anticipated Klein in describing the view from the “raised platform” on Mount Royal as including the “descending terraces of the admirably laid-out city” and the “silvery snake” of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers – all in all a “sublimely restful” tableau (14). See Kalman 1:247 for a reproduction of the 1704 plan for Montreal and 1:250 for the British superimposition of a “regular gridiron” on the French plan in the early nineteenth century. [back]
  8. See Collected Poems 2: 648-49 for Klein’s grateful tribute to the hospital’s nursing sisters, “For the Sisters of the Hotel Dieu.” [back]
  9. This and other phrases from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, particularly “O city, city” (Collected Poems 65-73), are repeatedly echoed by Klein in his poems about Montreal, a prominent instance being in the opening lines of the first and final stanzas of “Montreal”: “O city metropole” and “City, O city” (Complete Poems 2: 621, 623). Burton Pike’s The Image of the City in Modern Literature is a comprehensive study of its subject that remains very useful. [back]
  10. The temptation to quote Catharine Parr Traill on Montreal is irresistible: “I noticed one peculiar feature in the buildings along the suburb facing the river – that they were mostly furnished with broad wooden balconies from the lower to the upper story [sic]; in some instances they surrounded the houses on three sides, and seemed to form a sort of outer chamber. Some of these balconies were ascended by flights of broad stairs from the outside. I remember as a child dreaming of houses so constructed, and fancying them very delightful; and so I think they might be rendered, if shaded by climbing shrubs, and adorned with flowers, to represent a hanging-garden or sweet-scented bowery walk. But nothing of this kind gladdened our eyes as we toiled along the hot streets” (38-39). [back]
  11. Pollock notes that “[t]he statue of Maisonneuve in Place d’Armes has four figures at its base, including an Iroquois” (Klein, Complete Poems 2:998). [back]
  12. The reference here is probably to the Bank of Montreal building that was designed by John Wells and built beside the Bank’s original home in 1845-48. A product of “the Palladian-Gibbsian tradition of England and Scotland,” it “features a large freestanding classical portico” (Kalman 1: 249) that is indeed “pillar’d and vast” (see also Chapter 6: The Centre in the Square). [back]
  13. See also Pollock, A.M. Klein 120 for the last two stanzas of “Montreal” as “meditations on the passage of time, centering on the relationship of the body and the city” in such a way as to fuse “the ideal and the real, the city and the body,” so completely that “the poet’s body has been transformed into a place of residence for a living community.” [back]
  14. The compositional dates of Scott’s poems are based on those provided in the Index to his Collected Poems. [back]
  15. As Sandra Djwa points out, these last lines are a poetic expression of the CCF programme of “northern social and economic development” [227]. They may also be a reflection of Lester B. Pearson’s call for more scientific co-operation among arctic nations in “Canada Looks ‘Down North’” (1945-46). “Canada desires to work not only with the United States, but with all the Arctic countries – Denmark (for Greenland), Norway and the Soviet Union – in exploiting to the full the peaceful possibilities of the Northern Hemisphere,” Pearson wrote; “[p]articularly is this true of the U.S.S.R., which is well ahead of the rest of the world in the development of its polar areas and which, Canadians are beginning to realize, is their neighbour across the North Pole” (643-44). Pearson’s essay also contains some astute observations on the importance of the aeroplane for the perception and development of the North: “[t]he war and the aeroplane have driven home to Canadians the importance of this Northland, in strategy, in resources and in communications. We should no longer be deceived by the flat maps and ‘frigid wasteland’ tales of our public school geographies. The earth remains round, and the shortest routes between many important spots on it lie across Arctic ice and over the North Pole.... There was little use discovering gold or oil or radium in the Canadian Arctic thirty years ago. You could not get the mining machinery in or the ore product out. Aviation has changed all that.... The northern skies are humming with activity; smoke is coming from northern chimneys; adventurous settlers are moving in” (638, 645). The striking resemblances between Pearson’s essay and “Laurentian Shield” raise the possibility that it provided some of the inspiration for Scott’s poem. That the poem also carries the unfortunate implication that in the future Canada should be “link[ed]” with Stalinist Russia, raises the further issue of Scott’s attitude to Stalin and Stalinism as expressed, for example, in “Impressions of a Tour of the U.S.S.R.” and in “The State as a Work of Art” 15-17. (See Tracy Ware 830-31 for a valuable point of entry to the issue and Wanda Campbell for a pertinent discussion of Scott’s social vision ). [back]
  16. See Malcolm’s Katie 2: 230-39. Scott’s lack of apparent concern is all the more surprising in view of his manifest sensitivity to environmental issues in earlier and later poems and in light of the fact that other writers, most notably Malcolm MacDonald in Down North (1943) had written eloquently of the devastating effects of northern development on the natural environment (see MacDonald 176 and f. and Shelagh D. Grant, “Northern Nationalists,” 50-51). [back]
  17. The date of Scott’s paper is given on an anonymous typescript in the F.R. Scott Papers MG30 D 211, box 80, file 12. The Scott Fonds (MG30 211, box 82, file 24) contain two undated typescripts of the paper, the first of which bears the title “Beauty in Society,” which has been changed to “The State as a Work of Art,” which is the title of the second. All quotations are from the latter. I am grateful to Dean Irvine for procuring me a copy of Scott’s paper and furnishing me with a transcript of the anonymous note. [back]
  18. In addition to Frances Abele’s “Canadian Contradictions: Forty Years of Northern Political Development,” see the essays of Kenneth S. Coates and William R. Morrison, Michael I. Asch, Shelagh D. Grant, David Judd, and William E. Rees, and Richard Diubaldo’s The Government of Canada and the Inuit, 1900-1967, Gurston Dacks’s A Choice of Futures: Politics in the Canadian North, and Grant’s Sovereignty or Security. In “Social Notes I, 1932” and “Dew Lines 1956” Scott brings his irony to bear on the American exploitation of Canada’s natural resources and on the American military presence in the Canadian North (Collected Poems 65, 295). [back]
  19. Abele observes that “nomadic and scattered native societies were induced and persuaded” to locate in “[l]ow-rent housing ... in settlements” in order “to facilitate the delivery of educational, medical, and social services” (315), Dacks remarks that one of the results of “northern urbanization” was “welfare dependence” (35), and Judd cites a 1964 survey showing that “of some 817 one-room houses in the Arctic ... the majority ... contained from five to eight people” (348). In “Little Maple Leaf” (1991), the locus of which is given as “Inuvik, N.W.T.,” Robbie Newton Drummond describes a hung-over “Wes Kitimiak furnishing his “Khaki-coloured flat / in a bank of lime-green row-houses” with a “standard sofa and floor lamp” from a “government / warehouse” in whose “dusty reaches / identical headboards repeat / themselves a thousandfold / ochre tartan chairbacks, / off-red stains: all Public Works’, / each stamped with its own / little maple leaf” (11). Adding pathos to the scenario is the presence in town of “the oil boom from Tuk … the pilots and nurses / going wild” to the amplified music of a barband.” [back]
  20. See Abele for a balanced assessment of southern attitudes to northern Native peoples (they were “‘disadvantaged’” but, with assistance, could become “full and equal ... Canadian citizens” both economically and politically) and the reasons for the lack of consultation with the Native peoples themselves (“in this period, only a handful of people in Canada had any level of knowledge about northern native societies, communication with and among these societies was inhibited by linguistic, technological, and geographical barriers, and there were powerful economic and social welfare incentives to proceed quickly”)(315). [back]
  21. See also Scott’s Collected Poems 271 for the irony of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of a Canadian Centenary Council document. [back]
  22. The fact that Sweden had been an increasingly socialistic state since the introduction of workmen’s compensation legislation had, of course, made it a darling of left and left-liberal intellectuals. [back]
  23. There are prelusive references to Aklavik/E-3 in “The Camp at Bell Rock” and “Steve, the Carpenter” (Collected Poems 224, 228). [back]
  24. This judgment came from one of the participants in the ceremony, who observed that “the whites included four representatives from Northwest Territories constituencies, elected in most cases by native majorities; and the site [E-3] ... was [then] merely a construction camp in the wilderness; there was no resident native community to come to the meeting” (Djwa 332). [back]
  25. The poem is so dated in the Index to Scott’s Collected Poems, but it may well have been partly or even wholly composed in 1956 or shortly thereafter. [back]
  26. See also Scott’s “Trans Canada” (1943) and “Landing” (1967) in Collected Poems 56-57. [back]
  27. For a discussion of the fitness of the fragmentary form of the subject-matter of “W.L.M.K.” see Chapter 15: Literature Architecture Community. [back]
  28. Bordeaux Jail was built in 1907-12 as a result of the Quebec government’s recognition in 1890 that the number of male prisoners in the Montreal area had grown beyond the capacity of the existing Pied de Courant Jail. Built on land in the Bordeaux district of the city near Rivière-des-Prairies and intended to house twelve hundred prisoners, it was modeled on prisons in the Belgian system in which different types of criminals are separated so that they cannot influence each other (Di Lenardo np). Its architects were Marchand and Brossard, whose senior partner, J.-Omer Marchand (1872-1936), had recently designed the Maison Mère des Soeurs de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame (1905-08) and the Cathedral (1907) in St. Boniface, Manitoba and would subsequently work with John A. Pearson (1867-1940) on the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings (1916-27) in Ottawa (see Kalman 2: 589-91 and 712). (The St. Boniface Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1969, the Maison Mère is now the CEGEP Dawson, and, of course, the Centre Block remains a stamping ground for buffoons.) As can be seen from the illustration above, the Bordeaux Jail is topped by a cupola in the Romanesque Beaux-Arts style that makes it squatly reminiscent of a late nineteenth-century American state capitol (or, indeed, a western Canadian provincial parliament building. In addition to housing the surveillance tower, the cupola contains the prison’s Roman Catholic chapel, which, together with the Protestant chapel above the guard house reflected current beliefs in the importance of religion in the penitential process. The Jail’s six wings, one of which is truncated to make provision for the guard house, are surrounded by two sets of walls, the inner 16 feet (4.88 metres) and the outer 25 feet ( 7.62 metres) high (Di Lenardo np). Both walls are constructed of reinforced concrete with pillars every 30 feet (9.14 metres). The motif on the two storey entrance building was described by the prison governor who helped to design the Jail as a “triumphal arch” (Di Lenardo np). [back]
  29. See Christian W. Thomsen, Visionary Architecture from Babylon to Virtual Reality 122 for an illustration of Hollein’s Railroad Car Monument (1963), one of several works that reflect his exploration of the impact of large man-made forms in open landscapes (another is his Flugzeugträger in der Landschaft [Aircraft Carrier in a Landscape] [1964]). In “One More Utopia,” a short story of 1945, Klein’s narrator describes a “skyscraper” in “rolling grounds,” observing how “[i]ncongrous [is] ... this metropolitan architecture midst country scenery” (217). See also Lee Calkins’ “Dorchester Prison” (1971), where the New Brunswick jail’s “towers stand / tall against the fields ... – an ancient castle structure / brooding on the pastures / of the nearby farms” (12). [back]
  30. See Y-Fu Tuan’s Landscapes of Fear 187-201 for a perceptive discussion of this aspect of prisons. [back]
  31. In elaborating the principle, Bentham explains that the purpose of having an “inspector” who is able to “see ... without being seen” is to give the prison inmates the sense that they are “always ... under inspection, at least as standing a great chance of being so” (4:44-45). [back]
  32. See the chapters on “The Camp as Biopolitical Paradigm of the Modern” in Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life for highly pertinent discussions of the Nazi concentration camp “as … pure, absolute, and impassable space” and, as such, “the hidden paradigm of the political space of modernity” where power confronts nothing but “pure life, without any mediation” (123, 171). [back]
  33. Pollock notes that the lines surrounding the word “Discoboloi” in Klein’s text refer to Butler’s denigration of Montreal and Montrealers after discovering that in the Montreal Museum of Natural History a plaster cast of the “Discobolus” (Discus-Thrower) was “banished from public view to a room where were all manner of skins, plants, snakes, etc. And ... an old man stuffing an owl,” who explained that antiques were not placed on display because they were considered “‘rather vulgar’” (Butler, Works 20: 392, and see Klein Notebooks 222). [back]
  34. A request for Joycean assistance with the passage that my colleague Michael Groden very kindly sent to two chat groups yielded a wealth of responses: Robert Janusko (who shares Klein’s fascination with the Oxen of the Sun episode of Ulysses) detected echoes of Joyce’s De Quincey pastiche, Ruth Bauerle detected a resemblance to the passage in which Bloom thinks of the naked goddesses in the Kildare Street Museum in Circe, Jack Kelb heard “rhythmic, rather than verbal echoes ... of Stephen’s more impersonal rememberings and imaginings, e.g., the Jews at the Paris Stock Exchange in Nestor,” and Matthew Creasy wondered whether “the ‘patria’ reference” might echo Bloom’s misquoting of Cicero in Eumaeus, where there is “also a reference to the ‘hoi polloi’,” and drew attention to “the comic list of ‘rites’ observed by Bloom during the day in Ithaca.” In Klein’s “gammadactyl” and “Along galactic marble ... callipyginous marmor” Ronald Ewart also heard echoes of Bloom “thinking of the statues of naked goddesses” in Circe, and also of his thoughts about blind people (“Things they learn to do. Read with their fingers. Tune pianos”) in Lestrygonians. John Gordon and Clarence Sterling together suggested more than thirty verbal echoes of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. I am indebted to all these scholars for their generous help and valuable suggestions. [back]


Works Cited