New Canadian Library Case Study

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Another major concern with the creation of the New Canadian Library was that the NCL was predicated heavily on marketing and finances, rather than literary merit. The creation of Canadian canon could root the NCL in the literary market for decades to come. However, the NCL was not as successful as McClelland and Ross must have hoped, in fact, NCL texts from their series are not even available in Chapters. To function and exist, the New Canadian Library required sales and “the enterprise was strangled by financial interests from the beginning” (99), in fact even when it looked like the NCL would “become economically viable, Macmillan of Canada started its own reprint series in competition with McClelland and Stewart, making it increasingly difficult…show more content…
It would appear that the New Canadian Library did aim to select texts that best represented Canadian culture, however the New Canadian Library was often forced to exclude books for financial reasons, such as when they could not afford to get the rights to a book. In addition, books were sometimes chosen for their marketability and odds of generating sales over their quality. This exclusion of books and selection of texts based on economic needs tarnishes the credibility of the New Canadian Library as the authority of literary merit in Canada. In fact the business side of the NCL is more evident than its literary side. At the Calgary Conference in 1978 “it seemed clear that McClelland had manipulated the process to…promote his own titles” (27) during “‘an overt act of canon-making.” (27) In addition, writers were carefully selected to write introductions on the basis that they would write “favourable introductions” (27) to ensure the success of sales. Through this bolstering of their own texts, the NCL demonstrates the marketing side of canons, in which canons are selectively made with ulterior motives, be it supporting classics, historical texts, one’s own company, or one's idea of what gives a book literary…show more content…
The business side of canons also raises concerns about the limitations on what books and what authors can be included in a canon. In the case of the NCL’s Canadian canon, “If the national canon was determined by economic reasons and if excellence is a product of popular taste, then indeed one might worry about the fate of an “ethnic minority” writer whose work depended upon the literary tastes of an “ethnic majority” and the economic interests of a publishing house.” (105) How is a minority writer supposed to become part of the Canadian when “Ross’s diction of inclusion, which makes clear that Canadian literature has been thought of as a multicultural entity at least since 1954, is nowhere in evidence.” (106)? Perhaps this explains the lack of Indigenous authors. If each text in the NCL “recovered a part of Canada’s literary past” (Friskney 57), then perhaps a decision (conscious or otherwise) was made to ignore texts that could recover the effects of colonialism and the actions of settlers and

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