資料彙整   /   作家  /  Margaret  Laurence  瑪格麗特.勞倫斯
Margaret  Laurence
瑪格麗特.勞倫斯
圖片來源:http://info.library.yorku.ca/depts/asc/Bios/mlwho.htm
主要文類:Novel
資料提供者:Kate Liu (劉紀雯);Julia Hsieh
關鍵字詞:World Literature; Canadian Literature

Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
 

 作品風格

 
 

儘管瑪格麗特.勞倫斯的作品在她的年代曾經引起爭議,加拿大人依然尊敬她終其一生堅持寫作、為自己所信仰的所觀察到的忠實地記錄下來,也為加拿大的國家意識與文化造成不小的刺激與激勵。

 早年生活背景
 
A. 家庭生活
   
一九二六年七月十八日,蘇格蘭移民家庭出身的律師羅伯特.哈里遜.威米斯與尼帕瓦的愛爾蘭移民薇娜.琴.辛普森喜獲其女-琴.瑪格麗特.威米斯。 勞倫斯四歲的時候,母親因為腎衰竭過世,阿姨瑪格麗特.辛普森辭去教職搬遷至尼帕瓦在威米斯家照顧勞倫斯。其後一年,阿姨與父親結婚,正式成為威米斯太太,姨代母職,並且在勞倫斯九歲那年為威米斯家再添一子,取名勞伯特。然而,威米斯家的天倫夢並沒有持續多久,父親勞伯特.威米斯不久後因為肺炎辭世,留下年僅十二歲的勞倫斯與五歲的小勞伯特與母親同住。為善盡教養責任,威米斯太太帶兩名年幼的子女與其父,也就是勞倫斯的外祖父-約翰.辛普森同住 ,於是此後直到成年離家 以前,勞倫斯便與其後母、弟弟與年邁固拗並且威權的外祖父同住在尼帕瓦。
 
B. 教育背景
   


勞倫斯曾經在其傳記中透露,與專制的外祖父同住對她而言並不是件容易的事 ,尤其對一個充滿想像力的小女孩 來說,固執權威的教養方式使得她與外祖父的關係並不十分親近。所幸在後母威米斯太太慈愛的照料下,勞倫斯得以在充滿愛與關懷的環境下長大,並且因為威米斯太太的極力鼓勵而持續發展閱讀及寫作才能。勞倫斯在尼帕瓦學院就學時期即展現其寫作才華,她曾經為學校刊物做編輯並且贏得州長總獎章。由於她在文學上的優異表現,明尼托巴大學的文尼裴聯合學院提供勞倫斯全額獎學金繼續其學業。 勞倫斯在英文一科的傑出表現和努力使她在大學時代的學院報-聲音( Vox )裡的發表文章引起關注;又因受到左派改革思想的影響,她的作品中逐漸出現更明顯的傾左派社會改革色彩。正因受到傾左社會改革思潮影響,勞倫斯的作品大量注入人道關懷,並著眼人性的觀察描寫。這樣執著而本著社會良心的寫作風格不僅讓勞倫斯練習寫作、反應社會真實的一面,並為她在踏出校門之際便取得文尼裴市民報的記者一職。

 
C. 遊牧般的生活
   
一九四七年勞倫斯與明尼托巴大學土木工程系的畢業生傑克.勞倫斯成婚。婚後倆夫妻留在加拿大兩年後即遷往英國,在那裡年輕的勞倫斯夫婦開始他們的海外新生活 。一九五○年,傑克接受在英屬索馬利 蘭(今日的索馬利亞)的新工程工作。在索馬利蘭,傑克受付水壩工程而勞倫斯則熱衷於參與索馬利蘭的口述文學,之後的兩年期間,她將大部分的時間投注於與索馬利蘭人合作將索馬利蘭文化、文學翻譯、編輯出版成冊,也就是一九五四年出版的《貧困之樹:索馬利詩文集》。 一九五二至一九五七年間,勞倫斯與其夫遷往黃金海岸(今日之迦納)接受傑克.勞倫斯的另一個水壩工程任務。一九五五年勞倫斯和兩個孩子-三歲的喬瑟琳和一歲的大衛-與其夫一同在黃金海岸渡過在非洲的第五年,她開始撰寫生平第一部小說-《喬登另一面》直到一九五七年黃金海岸獨立成為迦納,勞倫斯一家人才離開非洲回到加拿大,結束長達七年的非洲遊牧般的生活。
 
D. 屬於自己的房間
   


甫回到加拿大不久,勞倫斯接獲至親的後母威米斯太太的死訊,這對於與後母感情深厚的勞倫斯而言無疑是一大打擊。在溫哥華定居下來之後,她於一九六○年出版自己的第一本小說 , 然而卻在 小 說出版 之際,勞倫斯與其夫 的感情瀕臨破裂。在此後的兩年之內,她便與丈夫分道揚鑣,並帶著兩個尚年幼的孩子搬到英格蘭的罕姆斯坦。在英國的新生活雖然清苦,勞倫斯在狹小的公寓裡建築起自己的空間,沈澱思緒的同時也為她的非洲故事、經歷做一個完整的交代, 她的《征服明天的人》和《先知的駝鈴》在 之後兩年相繼出版。

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 作品風格

勞倫斯的非洲故事主人翁往往是國境內的異鄉人,通常以第一人稱與第三人稱敘述講述故事經歷。身處一個沙塵國度,她以一個居處在異地的外邦女人的角度集結自身的經驗講述故事,在其中探討不同的問題:族群問題、性別差異、人權、人性與國家意識等等重要議題 。 多倫多全球報的評論 威廉.法蘭區 便高度讚揚她筆下真切的生活、生動而真實的人物刻劃、角色呈現及具有人性矛盾衝突的真實面以及引人易感同身受的筆觸。
 
A. 對加拿大文學的影響與刺激
   


勞倫斯作品中的主要探討議題不外乎關切女性、國家認同、社會平等、種族偏見以及對人性的探討,讀者往往在其作品中窺見她充滿了放逐的經歷、游離於法治與失序邊緣而產生對自由與改變的看法。她的女主人翁時常經歷社會壓迫,被迫在極度受限、進退兩難的情境中覺醒、抉擇而學習改變。一如勞倫斯在明尼帕瓦系列小說中的女主人翁們由自我覺醒而成長經歷不同階段的改變 , 藉 不同 年紀的主角,她展現了格外細膩的角色刻畫及人性觀察,一如《石天使》裡九十歲的老人受限於年老體衰的情境,因為無法表達內心的渴求而見失去與人溝通的能力,逐漸內化而沈默死寂的心靈卻在一連串的醒覺、回憶而讓她有漸明朗開放的心智,學習表達她需要愛與關懷的渴望。在 《上天的玩笑》和《住在火裡的人》裡,勞倫斯描寫被困在家庭、社會空間的兩姊妹努力突破空間的侷限,探索她們從未了解的世界,並將自己於心靈與身體上徹底解放。

勞倫斯經常藉著作品闡釋她個人的經歷與對生活的冥想體會,一如《占卜者》被視為她個人的成長故事,還曾經一度因為過於寫實的外遇、墮胎情境而引發爭議討論。儘管如此,勞倫斯在作品中詳實地記錄她的感想、她對於社會人性等層面的關懷,她所下的工夫不僅為她帶來當代文學界的高度評價,也將她塑造成加拿大早期女性主義先驅。讀者藉她反應時代的作品、人物描繪而能夠對人性、對身處的社會時代背景有更深刻的反省。勞倫斯本人在她的回憶錄曾提及她與嚴酷的外祖父同住的童年時光雖然造成她某些不愉快的陰影,卻在她成年後逐漸體會外祖父給予她深遠而正面的影響,也說明了她一生不停反省、深思而學習的習慣。在《陌生人的心》一書中她便透露:是外祖父「這個壓抑的威權的形象」所經歷過的艱苦和自尊曾幾何時也使她更加明瞭自己深受他堅定的力量影響而成長茁壯、變得更加堅強。

在勞倫斯寫作的歷程之中,她藉著學習及編譯非洲文學而更加了解一個國家的人民對於國家的認同、國家意識以及族裔平等的重要性;由她筆下的明尼帕瓦系列小說裡的女主人翁,勞倫斯寫出她關切性別平等、人性的關懷以及自我成長的期望 ,這證明她不只是 文筆傑出、作品說服人心的文學獎項常勝軍,也如大衛.史丹斯所說的:她的作品為新興國度裡的受苦的青年個體寫出同情,作品可見她對人類社會中迷思存在的必要性,並能夠看出她對當代加拿大小說的卓越貢獻。

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Margaret Laurence

1926-1987

Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇;
Rachel Hung/洪敏琇
 
A Brief Biography

 
Early Background

 Her Works

General reviews

Further reading

 
A Brief Biography 

Daughter of Verna Jean Simpson and Robert Harrison Wemyss, of Irish and Scottish descent, Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss in the small prairie town of Neepawa, Manitoba in 1926. Both parents died before Margaret was nine, and she was brought up by her mother's sister, Margaret, and her maternal grandfather, John Simpson. After graduating with Honors in English from United College (now the University of Winnipeg) in 1947, she worked as a reporter for The Westerner, a Communist newspaper, and The Winnipeg Citizen, a Socialist daily. In 1947 she married John Fergus Laurence, a civil engineer, and moved with him to England in 1949. The following year they moved to the British Somaliland Protectorate, where Jack Laurence was to supervise the construction of a series of dams. After two years in Somaliland, Jack Laurence's work took them to the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where Jocelyn, their daughter, was born in 1952 and their son David in 1955. In 1957, the Laurences returned to Vancouver and remained there until Margaret and Jack separated. She moved to England with her children in 1962, living there for more than a decade, first in London and then in a village in Buckinghamshire.

Laurence's experiences in Africa inspired her over a period of some sixteen years to produce a variety of writings on African subjects. The first of these was A Tree for Poverty (1954), a volume of translations of Somali poems and folk tales, which was completed in Somaliland and evidenced Laurence's fascination with oral literature. In the introduction, Laurence stressed the role of oral literature in Somali life and offered Anglophone readers insights into that culture. Published in Nairobi two decades before Somalia adopted orthography, the book was reprinted in 1970 for Peace Corps Volunteers to Somalia, and again in 1993.

Laurence discovered in Africa the themes and concerns that would both mark her work and help her to understand her own Canadian roots (Florby 144). While living in Vancouver from 1957 to 1962, Laurence published a series of stories in Prism and other periodicals about the Africans she saw caught in a transition from an old tribal world to a modern one. Set in the Gold Coast, these stories were later collected in The Tomorrow-Tamer (1963). Three other books emerged from Laurence's African years. In 1960 she published her first novel, This Side Jordan, which deals with Ghana's struggle for independence. The Prophet's Camel Bell (1963), a travel-memoir, was prepared from the journal she kept while in Somaliland, and gives an account of her sojourn there during the early 1950s. It reveals Laurence as a writer with keen observation for local details and the trivialities of everyday life. Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists 1952-1966 (1968) is a critical study of the English-language writers emerging in Nigeria during its fifteen-year period of cultural renaissance, which came to an end with the onset of tribal warfare in the mid-1960s.

To readers in North America, Margaret Laurence is best known as the author of four novels and a collection of short stories set in Manawaka, a fictionalized small prairie town. While in Vancouver, Laurence completed a draft of her first Manawaka novel, which would eventually be published as The Stone Angel (1964). This book grounded her reputation as a major Canadian author. Her relocation to England led to a prolific decade in Laurence's writing career. This period saw another two Manawaka novels, A Jest of God (1966) and The Fire-Dwellers (1969), a semi-autobiographical collection of Manakawa short stories, A Bird in the House (1970), and a children's book, Jason's Quest (1970). In 1969 she bought a summer cottage on the Otanabee River, near Peterborough in Ontario, and most of the fourth Manawaka novel, The Diviners (1974), was written there. She was writer-in-residence at three Ontario universities between 1969 and 1974, and returned permanently to Canada in 1974 to make her home in Lakefield, Ontario.

The Diviners was followed by a collection of essays, Heart of a Stranger (1976), and three more children's books: Six Darn Cows (1979), The Olden Days Coat (1979), and The Christmas Birthday Story (1980). Laurence also authored several essays on the craft of writing, including “Ten Years' Sentences” (1969), “Time and the Narrative Voice” (1972), “Ivory Tower or Grassroots?: The Novelist as Socio-Political Being” (1978), and “Gadgetry or Growing” (a talk given in 1969-70, published in 1980). In 1987, Laurence died of cancer. Two years later, in 1989, her daughter Jocelyn brought to final form Dance on the Earth, a collection of evocative memoirs about the generations of women in the Laurence family.

        As one of Canada's most important writers, with five novels, five works of non-fiction, four books for children, and two collections, Margaret Laurence was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1971. During her lifetime, she received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Governor General's Awards for two of her novels, A Jest of God and The Diviners, and the Molson Prize in 1975.

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Despite certain controversy Margaret Laurence's works had aroused among her contemporary, the Canadians appreciate her devotion on the chronicles and a sense of nationality and national identity through her epiphanic writings.
 
 Early Background
 
  A. Family
    Born on July 18, 1926, as the only child to Robert Harrison the Scottish lawyer and Verna Jean Wemyss the Irish pianist in Neepawa, at the age of four, Jean Margaret Wemyss suffered the bereavement of losing her beloved mother, who died of kidney failure. Laurence was cared by her maternal aunt, Margaret Simpson, who quitted her teaching and moved to Neepawa to live with the Wemyss family since her younger sister's death. A year later, Laurence's aunt married Robert Wemyss and became her stepmother. Margaret and Robert Wemyss had a son, Robert, when Laurence turned nine. Misfortune loves company, Robert Wemyss died of pneumonia and left the twelve-year-old daughter and five-year-old son behind for Laurence's stepmother, also her aunt. Margaret Wemyss brought the children back to live with her father, John Simpson. There in Neepawa, Laurence and her brother lived together with their mother and the stern and domineering maternal grandfather..
   
  B. Education
   

Living with the autocratic old man like Laurence's maternal grandfather was not easy; she had revealed her resent over the old man's domineering rigidity that had tormented her when she was still a child. Thanks to her aunt/step mother, Laurence grew up in a loving and caring atmosphere, being indulged and encouraged in her own world of writing and reading. While in Neepawa Collegiate, she edited the school paper and had won Governor General's Medal for her good work. With a scholarship she earned due to her excellent academic performance, especially in the literature, she was admitted to Winnipeg 's United College , affiliated with the University of Manitoba. As an honors student in English, she made her debut in the undergraduate paper, Vox , and was strongly influenced by a left wing that buoys up social reformation. It was then Laurence began to write more sentiently with her observation towards humanity. This conscientiousness of writing and reflecting the reality helped her further in her post as a reporter for the Winnipeg Citizen.  

   
  C. Nomadic life
    In 1947, Margaret Laurence married Jack Laurence, a civil engineering graduate of University of Manitoba. The couple stayed in Canada for merely two more years and then they left for England due to Jack Laurence's working post. In 1950, another post sent them to the British Protectorate of Somaliland (the present Somalia); there Jack worked on the dam project he was assigned to while Laurence began zealously involved in Somaliland oral literature: she thence spent most of the two years staying in Somaliland working with Somalis and editing a volume of translations of their literature, which later was published as A Tree for Poverty: Somali Poetry and Prose in 1954. During 1952 and 1957, Laurence moved to the Gold Coast (now Ghana ) with her husband who as relocated with his other dam project. By 1955, they had had Jocelyn and David, three and one respectively. The Gold Coast soon proclaimed its independence in the year of 1957 when Laurence was still working on her first novel, This Side Jordan. The Laurences returned to Canada and ended Laurence's odyssey in Africa.
   
  D. A Room of Her Own
    Shortly after the Laurences came home to Canada , Laurence mourned for the death of her beloved stepmother. The family later settled in Vancouver , and Laurence had her first novel published in 1960. Back then, Laurence experienced unquiet and turbulent marital relationship with Jack Laurence. They soon separated two years later, and Laurence moved to a flat with her children in Hamstead , England. If the years can be regarded as her decade of writing the African novels and short stories, the year she spent in England , then, was the conclusive year of her publication regarding her African experience. Laurence had The Tomorrow-Tamer and The Prophet's Camel Bell published the following two years.

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 Her Works
  The characters in her African stories were mostly aliens, and she told the stories through first and third person narrators. Feeling an alien herself in the land of dust, her experiences living in a remote foreign land prompted her interests in racial and gender equality, humanity and national identity. William French, the Toronto Globe and Mail critic, praised her profound portraits in her characters with an eye of realism and susceptibility.
 
A. Controversy and her Influence on Canadian Literature
   

The major issues in Laurence's works are about women, about national identity, social equality, racial discrimination and humanity. In her works, themes of exile, freedom and transformations forced by the paradox of order or disorder reoccur from time to time. Her women protagonists are often under scrutinization and always on the track of self-learning and self-discovery through constraining and dilemmatic living conditions. For instance, Laurence portrays the awareness and inner growth so as to transient changes in her female protagonists in a series of Manawaka novels. Laurence's women protagonists of all ages render her observant study and contemplation in humanity, like the ninety-year-old narrator in The Stone Angel moves little by little beyond her trapped body, and she transformed from the state of inertia to a learned old lady that eventually reached out more through reminiscence and the need of care and love. In her Jest of God and The Fire-Dwellers , Laurence depicts two sisters confined in the domestic and social space step out to be contact with a world that they have never apprehended, and have a breakthrough in life and free themselves mentally and physically.

Through writing, Laurence accounts for her personal experience and meditation on life. The Diviners , which is regarded as her buildungsroman, once aroused controversy and attention in view of certain explicit portrayal of extramarital affair and abortion. Yet, Laurence's effort in faithfully record what she has perceived and concerned not merely brought her recognition from her literary contemporary, but made her a pioneer as a feminist in Canada. In her works, readers feel and think more through her reflective writings and sketches on humanity. Laurence herself also is a good model of life-long learning in terms of her posthumously published memoir in which she mentioned how the twinge she felt under the roof of her grandfather had turned out to be influential and prominent in her life. By the time she finished Heart of a Stranger , she revealed that her grandfather, "the repressive authoritarian figure," somehow made her realize the strengths the he stands for, the hardship he has been through and the pride he holds, which are all Laurence had had awe to and yet found herself in the same positions.

Throughout the history of her writing, her devotion on African literature made her realize the importance of people's conscience in national identity and racial equality; from the chronicle depictions of her imaginary Manawaka protagonists, she voices out her concerns toward gender equality and humanity as well as individual inner growth. Margaret Laurence is never simply a prize winning writers that writes communicatively and cogently, but as David Staines indicates, through her fictions, she brought "a wise sympathy for the plight of the individual in a young nation, an understanding of the need for myths that give shape to human lives, and an intense dedication to the depiction of contemporary Canadians in the pages of fiction" (Stain 9, Dictionary of Literary Biography).

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General Reviews

Laurence's greatest achievement lies in the four Canadian novels dominated by the town of Manawaka, which is not simply a fictional version of Neepawa, though similar in many details, but an amalgam of all prairie small towns infused with the spirit of their Scots-Presbyterian founders. . . . Although only A Jest of God is set entirely in Manawaka, the town . . . represents in each novel a constricting force to be overcome by the main characters. Insofar as it shapes each protagonist, Manawaka is an aspect of her own being that must be confronted from within; at another level the town is an emblem of life itself.

(Joan Coldwell, The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature 634)

 

Many studies of Laurence's work focus on her five Canadian books, the Manawaka cycle. Historically, this is understandable because of the intense activity in Canadian letters that began in the 1960s and Laurence's place in that scene. However, Laurence belongs as well to world literature and the measure of her achievement must also include scrutiny of her five African books. Although she wrote before the development of Postcolonial studies, Laurence shows a deep and sympathetic understanding of the complex problems faced by postcolonial societies.

(Donez Xiques, Encyclopedia of Literature in /font> Canada 636)

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Reading Further span>

Gunnars, Kristjana. Crossing the Riverfont>. Winnipeg: Turnstone P, 1988.

Hind-Smith, Joan. Three Voices. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1975.

King, James. The Life of Margaret Laurence. Toronto: Knoft, 1997.

Lennox, John, ed. Margaret Laurence-Al Purdy: A Friendship in Letters. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1993.

Lennox, John, and Ruth Panofsky, eds. Selected Letters of Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1997.

Morley, Patricia. Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP, 1991.

New, William. Margaret Laurence: The Writer and Her Critics. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1977.

Nicholson, Colin. Critical Approaches to the Fiction of Margaret Laurence. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 1990.

Thomas, Clara. The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975.

Verduyn, Christl. Margaret Laurence: An Appreciation. Lewiston: Broadview P, 1988.

Wainwright, J. A. A Very Large Soul: Selected Letters from Margaret Laurence to Canadian Writers. Dunvegan, ON: Cormorant, 1995.

Warwick, Susan J. Margaret Laurence: An Annotated Bibliography. Toronto: ECW P, 1979.

Woodcock, George. A Place to Stand On. Edmonton: NeWest, 1983.

Xiques, Donez. Margaret Laurence: The Making of a Writer. Toronto: Dundurn, 2005.

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Works Cited

Coldwell, Joan. “Laurence, Margaret.” The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Ed. Eugene Benson and William Toye. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1997. 633-35.

Florby, Gunilla. The Margin Speaks: A Study of Margaret Laurence and Robert Kroetsch from a Post-Colonial Point of View. Lund: Lund UP, 1997.

Kertzer, J. M. “Margaret Laurence.” ECW's Biographical Guide to Canadian Novelists. Toronto: ECW, 1993. 170-75.

“Margaret Laurence.” Canadian Literature in English: Texts and Contexts. Vol. II.  Ed. Laura Moss and Cynthia Sugars. Toronto: Pearson, 2009. 298-300.

"Margaret Laurence." Contemporary Authors. Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2001.

“Margaret Laurence.” An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English. Ed. Donna Bennett and Russell Brown. 3rd ed. Toronto: Oxford UP, 2010. 608-09.

Morley, Patricia. Margaret Laurence. Boston: Twayne, 1981.

Staines, David. "Margaret Laurence." Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol.53: Canadian Writers since 1960. First Series. Ed. W. H. New. Bruccoli Clark Layman Book: U of British Columbia. Gale Group, 1986. 261-269.

Staines, David. Ed. Maregaret Laurence: Critical Reflections. Ottawa: U of Ottawa Press, 2001.

Thomas, Clara. Margaret Laurence. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1969.

Xiques, Donez. “Laurence, Jean Margaret.” Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Ed. William H. New. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2002. 634-36.

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