Citizen Saul

john raulston-saul-s

In the current issue of The Walrus, regular CNQ contributor Stephen Henighan has an interesting profile of John Ralston Saul.  I must admit: I’ve not read much of Saul’s work.  I remember coming across his Voltaire’s Bastards back when I was a philosophy undergrad, reading a bit of it, sniffing contemptuously, and writing him off as of little  consequence.  My sister-in-law caught me out last year when, at Congress, she picked up his latest book and asked me what I thought of him.  Little, I replied.  She asked me why, and I couldn’t really come up with a reason: inherited prejudice and a too-quick-judgment.  I made a note to give him another try.

Henighan’s excellent essay reminds me that I still need to do so, and that there may be a fair bit more to Saul’s work  than I had originally thought.  The Walrus has posted the essay online, which you can read here.

Though Henighan’s essay is the only one I’ve yet read, this issue of The Walrus surely ranks as one of their most interesting in recent memory.  In addition to the Henighan piece, Mark Kingwell contributes an essay on civility in politics, Steven Heighton contributes a short story, George Bowering remembers AL Purdy, and there’s much else besides.  Worth the purchase price on the newsstand.  Go pick up a copy.

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2 Responses to Citizen Saul

  1. I remember Saul coming to speak when I was an undergrad at the U of King’s College and the enormous room was so packed there were people seated on the floor at Saul’s feet. More than a few philosophy majors were sniffing contemptuously–which was almost enough on its own to recommend him. (My own brand of snobbery…) He may well not be much of a “philosopher,” but he’s an engaged practical thinker who, unlike most, has considerable extra-academic life experience. He’s always seemed to me well worth listening to. Only book of his I’ve read is VB, and it was over ten years ago; I thought well of it at the time, but I don’t always trust my early twenties judgments on such things.

  2. Aaron says:

    Saul is a uniquely Canadian visionary. ‘A Fair Country’ changed the way I see my country. His excellent speech at Hart House can be viewed on the TVO website at I find it interesting that Henighan, whose criticism I really appreciate, pulls his punches somewhat in discussing Saul’s place in the Canadian cultural establishment, and that Henighan gives more attention to Saul’s novels than to his non-fiction.

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