John Richardson was Canada's first native-born poet-novelist and 'The Father of Canadian Literature.' Michael Hurley offers the first detailed account of Richardson's fiction rather than of his life or sociological importance.
Hurley makes a convincing case for Richardson as an important early cartographer of the Canadian imagination and the originator of 'Southern Ontario Gothic.' He explores Richardson's influence on James Reaney, Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Christopher Dewdney, Frank Davey, and Marian Engel.
Arguing that Wacousta and The Canadian Brothers hold central places in our literature, Hurley shows how these two works established a set of boundaries that our national literary discourse has largely kept hidden. Focusing on the protean concept of the border in the fiction of this man from the periphery, The Borders of Nightmare underlines the importance of boundaries, margins, shifting edges, and the coincidence of equally matched opposites in necessary balance to both Richardson and subsequent writers.
In an age of postmodernism these novels - riddled as they are with discontinuities, paradoxes, ambiguity, and unresolved dualities that problematize the whole notion of a stable, coherent national or personal identity - anticipate and define a number of concerns that preoccupy us today.