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The Wars by Timothy Findley
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's review
May 30, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 1984, canlit, homoerotic-fiction-by-men
Read in May, 1984

[These notes were made in 1984:]. A very different experience from the movie - tho' not by any means an inferior one. Indeed, some of the scenes that one remembers from the movie as seeming intensely tho' mysteriously significant, are disappointingly lessened. But the compensation comes in our increased certainty of what's going on with Robert Ross, a satisfying confirmation of our intuitions about why he is so close to animals; why he behaves the way he does with respect to sex. (I am aware, of course, that knowing a little about Findley, I am overly sensitive to the homosexual implications - but somehow, tho' it didn't appear in the movie as such, I was prepared for that brutal rape scene near the end. A lesser director than Phillips would have wanted to keep that scene for his movie, I think, instead of just suggesting it.) The role of Mrs. Ross, although important and referred back to at crucial moments (as on the June 16 when everything went up in flames), is not as striking here in the original as Martha Henry made it. But Taffler (the veteran whose arms are eventually shot off), is far better accounted for here - an entire sequence in Lethbridge, training for the war, was omitted in the film. It is perhaps unfortunate that I can't look at this novel entirely straight: that I must always see it as the first half - almost a first draft - of a "work-in-progress" (or, at least, a work in change). I like it, but I also like so much what Findley's drastic changes and Phillips' vision did to it, that I cannot, perhaps, fully appreciate its structure and tone as a completed work in its own right.

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