Art and music in the fiction of Helen Weinzweig / by Noreen Ivancic.
Ivancic, Noreen M.
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Critics Northrop Frye and, more recently, Linda Hutcheon have commented tellingly on the relationships that exist among Canadian art, music and literature. Perhaps surprisingly, aside from an incidental comment here and a descriptive comment there, Canadian criticism has been very reluctant to investigate this promising complex of ideas. The training in music, for exarnple, of such writers as Charles G. D. Roberts, Robert Finch and Sinclair Ross has usually been treated as a matter ofbiographical fact rather than as something which might be of significance to their work. Helen Weinzweig, a Canadian writer, has made extensive and significant use of music and visual art in her fiction. It may be an informative comment on the focus of Canadian criticism that Weinzweig's published work to date — two novels and a number of short stories - remains largely unexplored, and, on the issue of her use of music and art in her work, virtually ignored. But a close examination of the work shows that Weinzweig uses both music and art in an integral way not merely to indicate the broad cultural spectrum from which she can draw to enrich the texture of her work, but also in a structural way to link pattern and meaning. For the most part rejecting conventional fictional structures, Weinzweig employs music and art, under the integrating power of memory, in order to offer her readers more fully charged, alternative views of life. This thesis proposes to examine Weinzweig’s use of allusions and structures from music and art, in concert with the power of memory, in an effort to explicate the peculiar power of her prose fiction. Emphasis in the thesis will be on the short stories although there will be some discussion of the novels as well. The thesis will be organized in the following way. Following a brief introduction, chapter one will examine Weinzweig's use ofvisual art and artists in the stories; chapter two will explore musical allusions and structures in the stories and in the novel, Basic Black with Pearls’, a brief conclusion will be provided.