New Facts and Old Fictions: Some Notes on Patrick Anderson, 1945 and En Masse

by Michael Gnarowski


     Patrick Anderson returned to Canada in October of 1971, twenty-one years after a somewhat sudden departure which had caught unawares both the English Department at McGill University and the circle of friends in the literary community of Montreal in which he had established himself with ease and considerable assurance. He returned as a result of a privately-issued1 invitation to read and visit at several eastern universities, and this visit not only renewed Anderson's old friendships, but it provided him with an opportunity to re-engage, as it were, with the literary scene with which his name had become associated. He discovered, for example, that 'his' period in Montreal had become part of literary history, and since he disagreed with some of the constructions put upon the events of that time, Anderson proceeded to attempt a recasting of the record. This was carried out in various ways: in private conversations during the first and a subsequent visit to Canada in 1973; in an article of bemused reminiscence which he published in the Spring 1973 issue of Canadian Literature; and in a long and diffident interview which he gave to Seymour Mayne, and which appeared in the Fall 1974 issue of Inscape. In all of this Anderson seemed to be chiefly concerned with two points. The first of these had to do with the emphasis which had been placed upon the cultural, social and literary differences between the groups responsible for Preview and First Statement by Wynne Francis in her article in Canadian Literature, Autumn 1962, and by Dudek and Gnarowski in The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada (1967). The second point concerned the winding up of Preview and the eventual absorption of its editorial board into the group which went on to edit Northern Review. Here again, Anderson's sense of history was offended by the suggestion that a more dynamic — and ultimately, more influential — First Statement had absorbed a somewhat bag vigorous Preview. It might repay documenting, therefore, certain emerita of 1945 which were contributory to the decline of Preview, and which, eventually, carried Anderson onto the editorial board of Northern Review; events, it should be added, about which Anderson even in the full flow reminiscence showed himself to be curiously spotty.

     In his interview with Seymour Mayne in Inscape,2 Anderson describes, and in highly telescoped fashion, his arrival in Montreal and his contribution to the modest literary life of that city in the 1940's. He mentions, casually, a predecessor little magazine to Preview which he produced with his wife and which was called The Andersons. Here is how he described it:

You see, earlier on, I think in April 1941, my wife Peggy and I had produced a kind of folio which we called The Andersons and which we distributed to about thirty friends. We made friends pretty quickly: I found Montreal a pretty friendly place. This folio, The Andersons, No. 1 — there was never a second issue — consisted of a short story of mine about a labour dispute in New York, a poem of mine, 'The Waves of the Sea', which I have never republished, a drawing by my wife, and a rather bright, and perhaps witty and sophisticated bit of literary causerie and art gossip which I'm particularly proud of because it does sort of show the kind of President of the Union side fitting into the Montreal scene and being interested in all sorts of developments.3

Later, in the same interview, and in the tone of the recanted Marxist, Anderson dismissed his politics of the war years, and glossed over what should have been strong memories. He said:

After all I was involved in politics. I was editing a magazine at one time, called En Masse; . . . 4

That was all. No dates, no information, no generous recalling of what a former President of the Oxford Union had contributed to this little-known magazine of such significant political stripe. What is more interesting, of course, is that En Masse appears to fall firmly into the gap between the end of Review some time in March of 1945, and Anderson's re-emergence late in that year, somewhat depoliticized, and ready to contribute to a new venture which wee then arising out of First Statement. A venture which would take in the old editors of Preview, silent some six months, and transform the whole into the new magazine, Northern Review.

     The last dated issue of Preview was the penultimate one. It was number twenty-two, and bore the date, December 1944. The last issue, number twenty-three, quite unlike its predecessors, was undated.5  Curiously, the magazine just ended. There was no announcement of any impending termination; of a change in policy or frequency; of a re-organization. The issue and the whole life of the magazine — ended simply and abruptly, without a word of explanation or farewell, with Patrick Anderson's sketch, "Portrait of a Marine". The probable date of this final issue was, in all likelihood, March 1945, although, oddly, there is no mention of the closing of View in First Statement which carried on to June/July of 1945. As a matter of fact, First Statement's "Note on Contributors" on Patrick Anderson in its April/May 1945 issue identifies him as "active on the editorial En Masse",6 which suggests that Preview was still alive in February or March of 1945 when that issue of First Statement was being set.7  But our interest lies with En Masse, relegated to near oblivion by Anderson's memory, and virtually unknown to literary historians.8

     On April 3, 1945, there was sent out to the readers and supporters of Canadian little magazines the following type-written announcement:

Dear reader,
      We herewith enclose a copy of the new progressive cultural magazine,        EN MASSE, in the hope that you may see your way to subscribing at        $1.00 for ten issues.

      We hope that you will give your support to this attempt to draw closer         together workers in the arts and sciences. We shall be very glad to        receive any contributions, comments or criticisms.

             Yours Sincerely,

              Patrick Anderson
         
                   (signed)

              For the Editorial Board,
              254 St. Cath E.,
              Montreal.

En Masse No. 1 was dated March, 1945, and it established the physical pattern for the next and only four issues of the magazine. It was produced by mimeographing on one side of 20.3 cm. x 27.4 cm. war-time paper with one colour printed covers. The first issue contained thirteen pages; the second, sixteen; the third, sixteen; and the fourth and final issue, eighteen pages. The magazine opened with a key-rotation from Walt Whitman:

One's-self I sing, a simple separate person,
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En Masse.

and the following "Introduction":

We have long felt the need for a magazine as a meeting ground for creative artists, scientists and others in, or sympathetic to, the progressive movement. During the war Canada has developed in many directions. Her enormous economic and industrial advances have been accompanied by considerable progress in literature, the arts and sciences, and in national consciousness. The artist, like so many others, is beginning to see his relation to society in a new way, with a greater realization of his involvement and responsibility. In some cases it is his idealism which prompts him, in far more [sic] this is allied with a definite acceptance of the fact that his interests as a free craftsman can only be defended by anti-fascist and democratic activity. By no means all artists or scientists are ready yet for a final political commitment, but many are anxious to have a chance of forming fruitful liasons [sic] with those who have declared themselves.

If we can help in this work of collaboration and mutual discussion we shall be very content to have launched this magazine.

The concluding statement on page one of issue number one informed the reader that:

EN MASSE is produced by the Cultural Committee of the St. Lawrence St. George Club of the Labor-Progressive Party.

This note having been set, En Masse went on determinedly in its attempts to politicize segments of the cultural scene in Montreal with a to-be-declared objective of having some impact upon the forthcoming general elections which would be held on June 11, 1945.9  This endeavour opened with an interesting article entitled, "The Heart of the City" which was signed 'Social Worker'. It attempted to describe the social constituency of the region to which the Cultural Committee of the St. Lawrence-St. George Club of the Labor Progressive Party was addressing itself. It was a readable piece, appropriately subtle in its social and political criticism. and it concluded with the following:

In the meantime it is important to realize the basic facts about the area: St. Lawrence-St. George is a place of extremes, of accentuated virtues and failings. It contains much which is beneficial or potentially beneficial, its universities, for instance, its cultural agencies, it contains also the darkest sides of contemporary living. To know it is inevitably to want to improve it. To improve it is to face an adventure in co-operative action.10

In addition there was a short story by M. Chapin, and an article entitled, "The Problem of the Middle-Class Intellectual" signed P[atrick Anderson?] which attacked Isherwood, Huxley, Koestler and Auden for actual or apprehended defections, and ended with this statement:

A cultural magazine should prove an asset, both to the scientific socialist who, like the Renaissance man, is greedy for the fulness of life and is also acutely aware of inter-relations and mutual dependencies, and to the liberal on the edge of the movement. A stimulus to Canadian culture, it may also enable our intellectuals to share the beautiful words of Picasso: 'I have become a Communist because our party strives more than any other to know and to build the world, to make men clearer thinkers, more free and more happy . . . I am again among my brothers.'11

The issue was rounded out with a section called "Previews and Reviews" which contained a snippet of art criticism on the work of Jacques de Tonnancour, and a review of a showing at the Dominion Art Gallery. There was a "Music Calendar for March", and a one-page book section which spoke well of A.M. Klein, and which recommended four books to the readers, two Canadian. Dyson Carter's, Sin and Science, which is ". . . strongly recommended as a clear and concise account of how the Soviet Union has dealt with the problems of prostitution, alcoholism, etc.";12 and Gwethalyn Graham's, Earth and High Heaven, described as "A sympathetic and interesting treatment of one of Montreal's problems."13

     En Masse No. 2, April 1945, opened with an article on "The Culture and Method of Science" by one Roger Stanier, and was introduced with this paragraph:

(Outside the Soviet Union, the one state truly founded on scientific principles, there is much confusion as to the meaning of science and the relation of the scientist to society. We believe that the following article will help to clarify this situation for our readers. Dr. Stanier is a biologist now engaged in penicillin production.)14

It was a conventional and reasonable plea for better scientific education of the general public, and an invitation to a rational view of science and its discoveries. The issue also contained a review article, "Latin American Fiction" by Miriam Chapin which tried to open what was then, clearly, a new door for the Canadian reader, and which ended on a note of admonish ment and exhortation. It said:

We must come to these novels with an open mind if we are to get from them all we should, for they interpret faithfully the society of which they tell, alien though it seems to us. They are not even written in the Spanish of Spain, but are full of Indian words, of evil slang, of genuinely American expressions. More than anything in our own North America, they come out of the soil. They are healthy, though sad and brutal; they portray no such diseased society as Sherwood Anderson or John dos Passos, nor are they artificial in their tragedy like Hemingway. They are hopeful because they are honest and because they look toward the growth of power and understanding in Los de Abajo. They shape a new fiction to interpret a new societv.15

Scattered through this and other articles and reviews in the four issues of En Masse one finds a consistent drive towards one perceived goal. The idea was, either by example or quotation, to point Canadian writers towards a literature of the 'people', preferably worked out of the social inequities and the economic disparities in the system of North America.

     In keeping with this purpose, Patrick Anderson supplied a socio-literary piece which he called "Notes from the City", and in which he ranged widely from images of Santa Claus in department store windows, to bystander 'gawkery' at a fire, to the horror and beauty of the arctic night which he developed around lines drawn from Archibald Lampman, and which led him (could it have been otherwise ?) to state that:

Our writers are turning from the north woods to frustrations nearer home and first attempts are being made to analyze and bring solace to the 'crying in the dark,' now seen as an expression of our social loneliness.16

"Previews and Reviews" in No. 2 dealt with contemporary films, gave a boost to the Contemporary Theatre Group, and called attention to four art exhibits in the city. Finally, there was a "Music Calendar for April", and a tell-tale letter to the editors over the signature of one, Jack Mitchell. This "Communication", perhaps masking under the guise of a criticism of editorial policy, was really, a call for a harder and more radical line on the part of the magazine. The "Communication" made two points. The first, and in words, said in part:

This [En Masse] is a worthy project, but is it worthy enough? I confess to being frightened about my future as a reader if the artists and writers are going to content themselves with achieving rapport with each other in the magazine, instead of diligently striving to fill the needs of hundreds like myself who are prepared to support a Marxist cultural venture. Surely the objective should be the broader one of bringing to awakening, intelligent Canadians in and outside the Labor-Progressive Party the most advanced creative work which the radical movement can produce or can evoke.17

The second point was an attack on A.M. Klein who, the converted would have argued, was masquerading under a socialist guise, and was, there fore, one of the traditional enemy. The attack is best summed up in Jack Mitchell's words:

Your readers, Mr. Editor, want the whole truth. Let them be told that Klein the poet is also Klein the politician; that with one hand he writes a Hitleriad and with the other he does all things in his power to undermine the unity which is essential to crushing the things which he professes to hate. If Klein is to be scored for not having Marched out into political realities', what must be said of your reviewer who will not accept as reality the role which Klein has played and continues to play in the very real politics of a constituency called Cartier. Frankly, I am not much concerned with the problem of whether Klein is more modern or less modern in the technical sense. I am greatly concerned with the problem of exposing the hypocritical culture of a Klein and opposing to it the genuineness of a people's culture. Give us leadership in such a fight and En Masse will flourish. Encourage your writers to communicate only with each other, cut yourselves off from political reality, and En Masse will die.18

At this juncture, En Masse had come to the half-way mark of its short life. The cultural and political tone of the magazine had been established in un mistakable terms. Issue No. 3 would be a kind of centre-piece, and, as history would later disclose, would represent the focal point of the magazine's activity, if not, one suspects, its real raison d'Ítre.

     Once again, the new issue opened with a characteristic and purposeful statement. Only this time, it was not the theoretical problem of the intellectual or scientist in society, it was, instead, a series of personal declarations, all bearing on the forthcoming elections of June 11, 1945. There were half-page contributions from Goodrich Roberts the painter; Beryl Truax, a former president of the Canadian Teacher's Association and a Labor-Progressive Party candidate in the election; D.L. Thomson and Roger Stonier, both scientists; Alexander Brott, musician and conductor; the painter Alan Harrison; Hugh MacLennan, and several others. All in their own way, and for their own political reasons and inclinations, expressed the hope for a better and fresher government for Canada. There was, as well, a declaration labelled "The Electoral Position of the L.P.P." by Lieutenant Gordon McCutcheon who was running as a Labor-Progressive Party candidate in St. Lawrence-St. George.

     In the domain of culture, Ralph Novek, identified as the magazine's drama critic and connected with the New Theatre Group "plugged' in an earlier issue, contributed a critique of radio drama which concerned itself almost exclusively with the CBC, and Ethel Hughes wrote an article entitied "Prelude to Progressive Art" which ranged from art to music and literature, and concluded by saying:

What be produced in the future depends largely on the kind of life we are able to plan for our Canadian people. Thus the June elections take on a significance and importance for everyone, artists as well as other citizens. None of us can ever again be divorced from the realities of our world which will shape our art of the future.19

     The next and final issue of En Masse was some time in appearing. Number 3 had come out in May, probably very late in the month and with the explanation that:

. . . the delay in producing this issue was not accidental; they [the Editorial Board] felt that it would be advisable to bring out one issue to cover the busy election period. The next number will appear on July 1st.20

But July, and August, and September came and went, and it was not until October that Number 4 appeared. And here, manifestly, changes had taken place. On page one, sharing space with parts of Dorothy Livesay's poem, "V-J Day: Improvisations on an Old Theme", there was this announcement:

En Masse no longer has any political affiliation; it is a cultural magazine produced by a group of progressives in Montreal. Address queries to Peggy Anderson, 3425 Peel Street, Apt. 3, Montreal, P Q. 21

Gone was the quotation from Walt Whitman, although the magazine was still imbued with its old 'progressive' spirit. Large sections of the issue were given over to a series of articles under the title, "The Arts in War time" to which Patrick Anderson's essay, "Notes on the War", by far the best thing in the issue, was closely related. Ghitta Caiserman and Alfred Pinaky wrote jointly an appreciation of the work of Alan Harrison; Evan Drury contributed a short story; Miriam Kennedy had a briefish note on music; and Miriam Chapin, a review piece called, "Novels of French Canada" which remarked briefly on Two Solitudes; Dorothy Dumbrille's All This Difference; on the novel Napoleon Tremblay, and on Lemelin's Au pied de la pente douce and Gabrielle Roy's Bonheur d'occasion.

     The last word from and about En Masse was to come in a mimeographed letter dated January 11, 1946, and bearing the address of the Andersons. It read:

     This is to announce the cessation of En Masse and to return the remainder of your subscription. We wish to thank you very sincerely for your kind support. En Masse had, in fact, about fifty enthusiastic friends and was slowly attracting the attention of others both as writers and subscribers. Unfortunately this backing was not quite sufficient to make the magazine financially secure; apathy and even hostility were found in unexpected quarters, and a majority of the editorial committee felt that it would be better to wait until circumstances should be ripe for a fresh start.
     We trust we may count on you again when a progressive cultural monthly does become possible.

It was signed "Peggy Anderson".

     The radical interlude was over, the Labor-Progressive Party had had its fill of backing a cultural magazine, and Patrick Anderson had shifted to the new literary venture which promised to be more interesting, more widespread in its appeal, and less closeted within an ideology. The end of En Masse is co-incidental with the appearance of the first issue of Northern Review on the masthead of which the name of a born-again bourgeois poet and critic called Patrick Anderson was destined to figure for a little while.


Notes

  1. Not as he would have it in his article, "A Poet Renews his Affair with Montreal", The Montreal Star, December 23, 1971, p. 7, in which Anderson states: "I was invited by the Canada Council and a group of Universities . . .". In fact the Canada Council undertook together with (then) Sir George Williams University and Carleton University to help defray the expenses of Anderson's trip to Canada.[back]

  2. "A Conversation with Patrick Anderson," Inscape, XI, no.3 (Fall, 1974), pp.46-79.[back]

  3. Ibid., p. 52.[back]

  4. Ibid., p. 66.[back]

  5. Goggio, Corrigan and Parker in their, A Bibliography of Canadian Cultural Periodicals (English and French from Colonial Times to 1950) in Canadian Libraries (Toronto, 1955) suggest January 1945 as the date of the last issue.[back]

  6. First Statement, II, no.12 (April/May, 1945), p.[36].[back]

  7. As well, Anderson is identified in a note in En Masse, no. 2 (April, 1945), p. 7, as an editor of Preview.[back]

  8. Goggio, Corrigan and Parker do not have an entry for En Masse in their, A Bibliography of Canadian Cultural Periodicals . . . (Toronto, 1955).[back]

  9. A.M. Klein ran unsuccessfully in this election.[back]

  10. En Masse, [no. 1], (March, 1945), p.5.[back]

  11. Ibid., p. 8.[back]

  12. Ibid., p. 13. [back]

  13. Ibid., p. 13.[back]

  14. En Masse, no. 2 (April, 1945), p.[1].[back]

  15. Ibid., p. 6.[back]

  16. Ibid., p.11.[back]

  17. Ibid., p. 15.[back]

  18. Ibid., p. 16.[back]

  19. En Masse, no. 3 (May, 1945)[back]

  20. Ibid., p. 16[back]

  21. En Masse, [no. 4] (October, 1945), p. 1.[back]