Why have so many of this century's prominent political and literary critics wanted to find a single metaphor to describe the character of Canada? Why do so many use land-based metaphors to ask about the divisions between centres and margins, colony and empire, wealth and power? W.H. New, in Land Sliding: Imagining Space, Presence, and Power in Canadian Writing, investigates this established paradigm by examining why so many writers have accepted the land as a comprehensive image of nationhood. Is there in fact, he questions, a landscape which is 'natural,' unmediated by social values and literary representation? Asking what 'land' as an abstract concept and a physical site has to do with writing, representation, and power, New looks at the 'sliding' relationship by which people associate their surroundings with their position in society. New's study of land in literature is a commentary on the way a culture produces values by transforming the 'natural' into literary idiom and, in turn, making literary convention seem natural.
Land Sliding develops not as a history of uniformity or progress, but as a series of dialogues between past and present, between paradigms and disciplines. It draws on a wide range of texts including First Nations narratives, contemporary poetry and fiction, government documents, real estate ads, artwork, and photographs to illustrate the complex associations that link place, power, and language in Canada today. W.H. New invites readers to look again at Canada's changing cultural character by rereading both the landscape and the people who have interpreted it. Land Sliding will have an important place in many disciplines, among them literary studies, geography, fine arts, and Canadian studies.