chapter  6
BEAR, OBASAN AND THE IVORY SWING
Pages 33

Always another place and/or another time is superimposing itself on the present, like two slides jammed in the same projector and thrown simultaneously onto the screen.

(Jannette Turner Hospital, Interview1)

Janette Turner Hospital’s inescapable doubleness of vision, recalling as it does Atwood’s description of Susanna Moodie’s state of mind, may serve to focus the connections between these three novels and nineteenth-century Canadian women’s writ­ ings, for they all belong to the central tradition of wilderness fiction in its feminized versions. As I have argued, the wilder­ ness has provided a textual space for women writers’ explor­ ation of female difference and a site of resistance to traditional structures of patriarchy and imperialism. These three novels set variously in Ontario, the prairies and the Indian sub-continent demonstrate the continuing presence of wilderness as landscape and metaphor in contemporary Canadian women’s fiction. Wilderness is the space outside ordered enclosures and so possesses all the doubleness of fascination and danger that being ‘off limits’ connotes. Promises of freedom are linked to an awareness of transgression, for boundaries assume a new

importance when they have to be crossed, and dislocation with its attendant doubleness of vision is always a feature of wilderness narratives.