Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study focuses on poet Dennis Lee's reading of one of his chief influences, George Grant. It notes the affinity in their understanding of the nature and cost of "technology," and highlights their points of disagreement.;For both Lee and Grant, the most deleterious effect of technological domination is the loss of a sense of the holy, a disabling of the human capacity for reverence and justice. Lee parts company from Grant, however, in his account of the holy. Lee tends to characterize the holy in Heideggerian and mystical terms, as an experience of awe unmediated by the things and creatures of the earth, as an encounter with the nothingness that surrounds all beings. For Grant, the holy is present in beings, who participate in a goodness that is primary and more fundamental than mortality. From within his more mystical understanding of the holy, Lee tends to give Grant a partial reading, obscuring Grant's efforts to reanimate a sense of reverence in the midst of technology. His reading also obscures an interesting tension that arises in his accounts of his own poetics and in several of his poems: against his rather mystical, Heideggerian characterization of the holy, his writing enacts a more 'rooted' or 'incarnational' sense of sacredness in the stance of justice he takes towards other beings.;Chapters One and Two focus on Lee's two prose accounts of Grant, noting the struggle with influence and the partiality of his reading. Chapter Three analyzes the art of Grant's writing, to show his efforts to reanimate a sense of reverence. Chapter Four studies Lee's statements of poetics, noting the competing influences of Grant and Heidegger. Chapter Five argues that Lee's Savage Fields: An Essay in Literature and Cosmology can be read as an effort to understand Grant's notion of "the beneficence of nature." Chapter Six analyzes three of Lee's poems, tracing the tension between his nature. Chapter Six analyzes three of Lee's poems, tracing the tension between his mystical understanding of the holy and the 'incarnational' understanding, found in Grant. The study concludes by suggesting that Lee's hunger for reverence in the midst of technology might serve as a starting point for studying a renewed, reverential consciousness that seems to be emerging among contemporary Canadian authors.



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