Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Wacousta by Major John Richardson

Share |
Wacousta by Major John Richardson

McCelland and Stewart, NCL, 1832

Americans have to read Moby-Dick as a testament of civic pride. The rest of us can read it as the vast and powerful novel it is. Wacousta is our own version of a whale story with infinite ambiguities; it’s a frontier romance where nothing is what it seems. The villains are forces of change for the better, the heroes are feckless and fey, in the old Scottish sense of being destined for doom. The prose is inflated, the action melodramatic, the themes contradictory, yet somehow it manages to be wholly authentic as a paradigm for the psychological complexities of our frontier and colonial past.