Issue #69, Press for Conversion! (Fall 2017)

A 52-page, full-colour issue of COAT's
Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade

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The front cover of Fictive Canada is a collage highlighting an Edward Hick's primitive surrealist painting called "The Peaceable Kingdom" (circa 1834).  Click here to see the original painting.  Overlaying this artwork is an angelic figure carrying a flag-adorned sword and a cross, as described in the official French version of "O Canada" (see below).  This fictive "Angel Canada" is imagined here as she generously dispenses vainglorious Canadian values from both ends of her being. Her crucifix graciously bestows flag-like rays of Canadiana which rain down on a meeting of beneficent gift-bearing European settlers with semi-clad Indigenous people.  Meanwhile, Canada's ever-symbolic national leaves (with their magically taming and civilising effect) can be seen gloriously streaming out from behind the mythical angel as she conducts a strategic sortie over a group of wild and savage beasts that are peacefully mingling with their docile prey.

Here is an excerpt from Richard Sanders, "True Crime Stories and the Politics of Literary Escapism: Canada as a Fiction in the Imperial Genre," Fictive Canada, Issue #69, Press for Conversion! Fall 2017, p.2:

According to Canada’s most illustrious literary son, Northrop Frye, the whole "mood" of our nation is expressed in the "haunting vision of serenity" of a primitive surrealist painting by Edward Hicks called "The Peaceable Kingdom," circa 1834. (See a modified version on the front cover.) In the foreground we see normally vicious predators sitting cheek to cheek, and ever so passively, with blank-faced and cherubic white pioneer children. With them are tender lambs and other tasty morsels of easy prey who, as Frye said, "stare past us with ... serenity."1 It is a utopian vision of the Biblical prophet Isaiah, writ large on the North American landscape. In the background, kindly European settlers are seen parlaying peace with the Indians, generously offering them blankets and other trinkets symbolising their good will.

Frye, whose genius as a literary critic and theorist made him one of the 20th century’s most influential thinkers, saw in this dream-like canvas the "quest for the peaceable kingdom"2 that was, he argued, the defining feature of Canada’s entire literary tradition. But what Frye left unsaid is that the fabled peaceableness so fancied by Canadian wordsmiths is utter hypocrisy, a hallucinatory national farce. Just as predators and prey never live side by side in serene nonviolent oneness, neither do conquering imperial powers treat subjugated nations with justice and peace. The fictive serenity of Hick’s art reflects, in Pollyannaish glory, the flatulent rhetoric by which so much of Canada’s deluded literary tradition, both fiction and nonfiction, has absurdly marched.

The graphic and text below is from Fictive Canada, p.41.