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Sheila Watson Biography

(1909–1998), The Double Hook, Four Stories

Canadian novelist, born in New Westminster near Vancouver, educated at the Universities of British Columbia and Toronto. Her doctorate, on Wyndham Lewis, was supervised by Marshall McLuhan. Watson's experience teaching in the Cariboo region of the British Columbia interior provided the basis for her highly acclaimed novel The Double Hook (1959), sometimes described as the first modern Canadian novel; it is a complex archetypal work, which intersperses Biblical echoes with Western Canadian Indian mythology, particularly in the use of the trickster figure of Coyote, and blends the conventions of folk tale and modernist fiction. Notable for its fragmentary, elliptical narrative method and absence of authorial moral commentary, the novel nevertheless works as a quasi-religious allegory about the redemptive power of community and communion. Watson's only other work is a volume of Four Stories (1979) and an individually published story, ‘And the Four Animals’ (1980), a remarkably wide-ranging but concise fable about the genesis of faith and cultural transformation. Her influence has been acknowledged by several later Canadian writers, including Robert Kroetsch and Rudy Wiebe.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography