Playing Dead: A Contemplation Concerning the Arctic

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NeWest Press, 2003 - Nature - 160 pages
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Playing Dead: A Contemplation Concerning the Arctic, by two-time Governor General’s Award-winner Rudy Wiebe, is the first book in NeWest’s Landmark Editions Series. First released in 1989, this collection won the Alberta Culture Non- Fiction Award.These essays take a critical look at the history, mystery, and spirituality of a region that Wiebe would have us see as a vital aspect of our Canadianism, one we ignore at the peril of our nationhood.

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About the author (2003)

A firm belief in the redemptive possibilities of history dominates Rudy Wiebe's fiction. His characters search for community, for a spiritual collective informed and strengthened by historical consciousness. This attempt to unite the present and the past stems from Wiebe's Mennonite religious background. Central to the Mennonite belief is the rejection of loyalty to contemporary and worldly government; personal commitment belongs, instead, to the religious community, with its hard-earned historical heritage as a nonconformist movement. Wiebe was born in a northern Saskatchewan farming community; in 1947 the family moved to Alberta, and he completed his education at the University of Alberta, where he teaches. Wiebe's first novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many (1962), addresses pacifism, a belief central to Mennonites. The novel's hero faces a moral quandary when forced to choose between religious convictions and Canadian nationalistic fervor during World War II. While The Blue Mountains of China (1970) records Mennonite history, The Temptations of Big Bear (1973) examines the destruction of Indian culture in white Canada, and The Scorched-Wood People (1977) takes up the plight of the Metis---those with mixed blood; all three novels focus on minorities who must struggle to maintain their sense of community. Ideas repugnant to the Mennonite sensibility, violence and self-destruction, figure in The Mad Trapper (1980), which recounts the hunt for a man whose isolation has driven him into madness. In 1980 Wiebe's short stories were collected in The Angel of the Tar Sands and Other Stories. Stylistically, Wiebe gives little ground to the reader, for his fiction is characterized by difficult dialects, a web of details, and a dense style.

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