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The Imperialist

2.55  ·  Rating Details ·  101 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Sara Jeannette Duncan’s classic portrait of a turn-of-the-century Ontario town, The Imperialist captures the spirit of an emergent nation through the example of two young dreamers. Impassioned by “the Imperialist idea,” Lorne Murchison rests his bid for office on his vision of a rejuvenated British Empire. His sister Advena betrays a kindred attraction to the high-flown id ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by New Canadian Library (first published 1904)
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Perry Whitford
Sep 17, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intelligent and insightful snapshot of provincial Canada as it entered the 20th century, torn between striking out alone in the world or strengthening imperial ties with the mother country.

Lorne Murchison is the first-generation son of a respectable immigrant family, convinced that preferential trade with Britain is the way forward, willing to put his reputation on the line to convince the people of his upwardly mobile Ontario county likewise.

Not only this, he believes that Canada needs to ta
Jan 17, 2017 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-for-school
The tone of this book is like L.M. Montgomery's writing voice, only with jarring throwaway racist and ableist comments on the part of both characters and narrator. The rest is bad politics with some amusing social commentary that doesn't achieve enough distance from its subject to really work for me as satire. You're not always quite sure if you're supposed to agree with what's going on.
The main character, Lorne Murchison, isn't nearly as interesting as his sister Advena, whose story is given le
Feb 07, 2011 Mjhancock rated it really liked it
The romance subplot, though ultimately somewhat superfluous in the book's larger scheme, is well done, striking the right balance of resigned affection for the characters involved. In fact, Duncan amply balances all her characters, so that no one is entirely a stereotype or walking cliche. The imperialist bent of the main narrative is compelling, though largely for a radically different interpretation of early 20th century Canada's potential on the global stage. I have to disagree with the after ...more
Dec 21, 2012 Tom rated it liked it
This is a solid novel of manners. More interesting, however, is a nation that is coming to grips with an identity that is intertwined with British imperialism.
Jan 14, 2015 Ambdkerr rated it liked it
Honestly I longed to read more of Advena, a far more interesting and dynamic character, than her brother Lorne. But I guess then I wouldn't have been reading a novel about imperialism.
Mar 11, 2010 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-lit
Set in a fictionalized Brantford at the turn of the century, this 1904 book is something of a mixed bag. I've been having a hard time figuring out how to review it. So instead, I've just jotted some notes:

- Because I live in Brantford I found myself spending a lot of time trying to figure out exactly which bits were based on real locations and people. The footnotes of my edition helped with this, combining with lots of internet searching. It was interesting, but made for a slower read.

- As a nov
Dec 11, 2010 Ibis3 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: political junkies
The middle of this book was rather tedious as the author went on and on explaining Lorne's positive support of imperialism* and his party's wavering position on the issue. I wish Duncan had spent more time on her characters, their relationships, and a little less on political philosophy. But the parts she spent on those things were very good. She writes a little like George Eliot or even Elizabeth Gaskell but with a Modern burnish, almost anticipating Virginia Woolf at times.

(view spoiler)
Apr 02, 2008 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
This book is far too long. The characters kind of annoyed me as well. The only thing that kept me going in this book was the love affair between the minister and the main characters sister. Other than that I wouldn't suggest reading this unless you have to.
Scott Stevens
May 07, 2010 Scott Stevens rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
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