This course challenged me while being highly enjoyable.

I took it as my required literature course, and chose Canadian because I have always felt proudly Canadian, especially since I see our celebration of multiculturalism as a microcosm of what the world should look like. A 'colourblind' world. Granted I knew - even before this course and our exploration of various themes of discrimination in Canada against Native Americans and immigrants in particular - that this view of Canada was a little naive. But there is definitely some truth to it, and that's the part I choose to see and be proud of such that when encountering discrimination I can oppose it and work against it without losing my faith and pride in Canada.

I suppose I digress. In any case, I was interested to see what Canadian writers had to say, and was not expecting the broad conversations on identity and other complex issues which I found very rewarding. In that respect this course far surpassed my expectations.

I was very pleased with the choice of GGRW as it felt new and different: likely as I now know, since it would not have been "Canadian Literature" as far as the original canon was concerned! I was also glad to be able to choose the second novel, as choice definitely allows for greater ownership over the learning process. It's a little more self-directed and you get to read something you definitely want to read.

In terms of it being a literature course, I was very surprised about the use of blogs and no actual essays. Being so unconventional was disconcerting at first, but I'm now so happy about the skills I've gained that I never would have even thought to try to acquire. The idea of bringing the study of literature into the new media we have to use today makes a lot of sense. I think as time goes on, more learning will shift to online, living work. Or at the very least, it should!

The worst part of this class, though it wasn't too difficult to deal with, was the confusion that came from the fact that it was nothing like I've experienced before or was expecting. Blogging and doing presentations for the majority of marks with what felt like very little direction was scary to think about too much, but I definitely think the creative freedom allowed me to get more out of it. And ultimately, that's the point of this whole education thing: to learn and grow, not to fit into stringent guidelines for easy comparison and marking.

Thank you so much for this class. If it didn't conflict with required engineering courses next term, I'd be signing up for your Prose course!
For my final post on this novel, I wanted to look into what seem to be the more obvious allusions, and yet they form the basis of the idea and beliefs of the God’s Gardeners. The title The Year of the Flood refers to the belief of the GG’s that a “waterless flood” will come and wipe out much of the earth, or at least much of humanity. They prepare for this time so that they will survive and be able to help in re-building the earth in a manner that respects animals and celebrates and protects nature. They don’t seem to have any idea of what this flood will be or what it will look like, or even when it might come.

It is clear that the GG’s were right, as most humans die from the virus while no animal is affected, and quite soon after the signs of nature taking back the earth can be seen with animals going wild and plants growing unhindered.The title comes from the fact that while the plot takes place over several years, the narrative is really just a year (or less than a year likely) right after the flood occurred following Ren and Toby trying to survive, and they flash back to times before the flood.

They never state how this belief in an essential Armageddon came about, although considering the convergence of brilliant ex-scientists with strong religious belief, it is likely that they saw similarities in their society with that in looking back on the story of the Biblical flood. In that story, God had judged his creation and deemed it to have failed, and (like many scientists) he decided to destroy the world and start over. So he spoke to the one righteous man and had him build an ark on which to save his family and two of every animal. Then He caused it to rain and flood above the highest mountain so all the evil died. In the end the waters go down, and the Ark comes to rest on Mount Ararat.

GG’s looked at the world and saw the evil in it, and saw that the evil was ever increasing, and so believed that God would once again wipe it all away. They called themselves the Ark’s though, and the animals on the ark were simply memories of names. They also made “Ararats” which were caches of survival supplies that they would need when the flood came. Clearly they named them after Mount Ararat, which was the savior of Noah and the ark, because the caches will serve as their saviors when society implodes.

As my final thought for this course, I’d just like to note the connection between the two books I studied. King took the story of Noah and satirized it, raising the importance of woman and showing respect for animals by allowing them to speak. Atwood took the story and turned it into a modern possibility, but here no man is spoken to by God, and the survivors are not the most religious, but those who all along had the strongest survival instincts (Ren, Zeb, Toby) or the most knowledge and intellect about the forces working to destroy humanity (much of the MaddAddam group).

Interesting that both authors took this story – one so integrated into collective conscience of this society – and used it to comment on religion, nature, science, the role of women, the clash of culture, the importance of animals and the future. I think ultimately, as Canadians, they know the ease with which most of their readers would connect to that story, and with connection would be further drawn into the story and feel the full force of the commentary on such diverse and important issues.
The Water-Shrew That Rends Its Prey  

The Water-Shrew that rends its Prey
Acts purely out of Nature’s need;
It does not stop to plot its course,
But simply does the deed.

The Leopard pouncing in the night
Is kin to soft domestic Puss –
They love to hunt, and hunt to love,
Because God made them thus.
But we are not as Animals
We cherish other Creatures’ lives;
And so we do not eat their flesh
Unless dread Famine drives.
page 348

The Garden

Who is it tends the Garden,
The Garden oh so green?
‘Twas once the finest Garden
That ever has been seen.

And in it God’s dear Creatures
Did swim and fly and play;

And then came greedy Spoilers,
*warning: graphic*
And killed them all away.
page xi


When God Shall His Bright Wings Unfold

When God shall His bright wings unfold
And fly from Heaven’s blue,
He first will as a Dove appear
Of pure and sparkling hue.

Then next the Raven’s form He’ll take,
To show there’s beauty too
In any Bird that He did make,
The oldest and the new.

He’ll sail with Swans, with Hawks He’ll glide,
With Cockatoo and Owl,
The chorus of the dawn He’ll sing
He’ll dive with Waterfowl.

As Vulture He will next appear,
The Holy Bird of yore,
Who Death does eat, corruption too,
And thus does Life restore.
page 373

The Earth Forgives  

The Earth forgives the Miner’s blast
That rends her crust and burns her skin;
The centuries bring Trees again,
And water, and the Fish therein.

The Deer at length forgives the Wolf
That tears his throat and drinks his blood;
His bones return to soil, and feed
The trees that flower and fruit and seed.

And underneath those shady trees
The Wolf will spend her restful days;
And then the Wolf in turn will pass,
And turn to grass the Deer will graze.
All Creatures know that some must die
That all the rest may take and eat;
Sooner of later, all transform
Their blood to wine, their flesh to meat.

But Man alone seeks Vengefulness,
And writes his abstract Laws on stone;
For this false Justice he has made,
He tortures limb and crushes bone.

Is this the image of a god?
My tooth for yours, your eye for mine?
Oh if Revenge did move the stars
Instead of Love, they would not shine.

We dangle by a flimsy thread,
Our little lives are grains of sand:
The Cosmos is a tiny sphere
Held in the hollow of God’s hand.

Give up your anger and your spite,
And imitate the Deer, the Tree;
In sweet Forgiveness find your joy,
For it alone can set you free.

page 426-27