Robert Kroesch Biography
(1927– ), The Studhorse Man, Gone Indian, Badlands, The Words of My Roaring, What the Crow Said
Canadian novelist, poet, and critic, born in Heisler, Alberta, educated at the Universities of Alberta, McGill, and Iowa. His work as a critic is informed by a strong interest in American post-modernism and an attempt to relate this to the Western Canadian environment. His novels are particularly concerned with gender issues and the cultural identity of Prairie communities; they habitually employ quest patterns. In The Studhorse Man (1969) a Swiftian narrator, who writes naked in a bathtub, provides an ambivalent elegy for Western manhood. In Gone Indian (1973) an American graduate student deserts academic life by following in the steps of ‘Grey Owl’, the Englishman-turned-Canadian Indian Archie Belaney. Badlands (1975) combines a fictional account of a 1916 archaeological expedition with a contemporary feminist quest narrative, in which the daughter of the expedition's leader liberates herself from her father's stultifying psychological influence. Kroetsch's other novels include The Words of My Roaring (1966), the magical realist What the Crow Said (1978), and Alibi (1983). His volumes of verse include The Stone Hammer Poems (1975), The Ledger (1975), Seed Catalogue (1977), and The Sad Phoenician (1979), and have been collected together to form a gradually accumulating poetic autobiography, Field Notes (vol. i, 1981; vol. ii, 1985). Completed Field Notes (1989) concludes the project and includes Advice to My Friends (1985), Excerpts from the Real World: A Prose Poem in Ten Parts (1986), and later writings. He has also published a collection of essays and literary criticism, The Lovely Treachery of Words (1989). Labyrinths of Voice (1982), a book-length interview with Kroetsch, provides the best introduction to his literary theories.