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A Colonial Library in a Scandalous Novel: Marian Engel’s Bear

Culture and languages

WIP seminar within the English research seminar series. Britta Olinder presents her ongoing research. All interested are welcome!

25 May 2021
15:15 - 17:00
Online via Zoom, please email the contact person for link

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Seminar language: English and Swedish

For a copy of the proposed paper, please contact Zlatan Filipovic.
Department of Languages and Literatures


Canadian writer Marian Engel is best known for her 1976 novel Bear, which attracted attention because of the close relationship that it describes between Lou, the lonely main character, and the bear with which she finds herself coming into contact. The main reason why she stays on an island far north of Toronto, her home town, is due to her job, consisting in cataloguing and studying the library collected by the first owner of the place in the early nineteenth century. Her everyday life is thus interfoliated by cultural and literary references to her interesting finds on the bookshelves, her comments and historical observations. This library is accordingly a very special place – also in light of its architectural structure – capable of bearing witness to the Canadian process of colonisation. It is full of surprising discoveries, but it is also an invaluable source of information about historical trends as well as the predilections of its previous owner.