Journals Higher Education



Published: 19 September 2013

304 Pages


ISBN: 9780199009190

Bookseller Code (AE)

In Search of Canadian Liberalism

Frank H. Underhill (deceased) and Kenneth Dewar

Wynford Books

  • Governor General's Literary Award winner. An early pioneer of Canadian intellectual culture, Underill won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction in 1960 for this collection of essays.
  • New introduction. Historian Kenneth Dewar, a long-time champion of Underhill, introduces the Wynford edition for the modern reader.
  • Leading public intellectual. Underhill's career spanned forty years, stimulating new thinking about politics and history in English-speaking Canada. He read widely and was influenced by a range of writers including John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham, and George Bernard Shaw. His essays include discussion of the careers of J.S. Dafoe, W.S. Woodsworth, and Goldwin Smith.
  • Political activist. Underhill was involved in both the League for Social Reconstruction and the creation of a new socialist party, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Intellectuals should take both risks and action, he argued, rather than worshiping the "god of respectability."
  • Controversial figure. From his younger days as a Fabian and socialist to his pro-American stance following World War II, Underhill took considerable flak over the years, even falling foul of the University of Toronto administration.
  • Remarkable foresight. Through his early articulations of still-ongoing Canadian debates (our relationship with the UK and US, national apathy, the rise of the Canadian left), Underhill remains one of the few authors who was unafraid to take a controversial, thought-provoking stand.
  • Probing, irreverent, vernacular style. Descended from the true essay tradition, Underhill's writings are characterized by a personal, informal voice and an open-ended, witty, and free-flowing style. A dyed-in-the-wool contrarian, he was anti-romantic and unsentimental, employing a fast-moving and vigorous yet highly readable narrative.
  • Forgotten movements in Canadian history. Rougism, Clear Grits, and Canada First are all covered here for the interested reader.
  • Appendix of further reading. Underhill's other writing are provided in an appendix, categorized by subject.

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