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Mark Abley

28 November 2013 | Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post

The author Mark Abley discusses his new biography, Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott (Douglas & McIntyre, 2013), with Joseph Planta.


Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott by Mark Abley (Douglas & McIntyre, 2013).

Click to buy this book from Amazon.ca: Conversations with a Dead Man


Text of introduction by Joseph Planta:

I am Planta: On the Line, in Vancouver, at TheCommentary.ca.

We’re going to look at the life of Duncan Campbell Scott now through the eyes of a new biography (Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott) by the author Mark Abley. He joins me now to talk about this book, which is a totally engrossing look at the sort of double life lead by Scott, who at once is considered one of our best poets, and at another is considered one of the worst Canadians of all time. Duncan Campbell Scott was a president of the Royal Society of Canada, a noted poet and writer, yet at his day job, where he was largely a civil servant in the federal department of Indian Affairs, he was a supervisor of the residential schools program, and accused of committing cultural genocide. He was a proponent of assimilation, and vilified for his views on the so-called ‘Indian problem.’ In this clever and thoughtful book, Mr. Abley encounters Scott and the ‘two’ have spirited discussions about Scott’s legacy. Mark Abley, a Rhodes Scholar, is a writer of previous books entitled Beyond Forget, Spoken Here, and The Prodigal Tongue. He writes a language column for the Montreal Gazette. What this book does is show the two sides of Scott, and challenges us as to whether they can be reconciled, and we’re left to ponder whether Scott’s actions were defensible or forgivable. And it’s not an easy indictment on the life and legacy of Scott. The website for more is at www.markabley.com. This book is published by Douglas & McIntyre. Please welcome to the Planta: On the Line program, from Montreal, Mark Abley; Mr. Abley, good morning.

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