Survey of Authors & Secondary Sources

Vandelaar 1

Tanner Vandelaar

Mrs. Vallier


Friday February 25 2011

“The Wars” by Timothy Findley

1. Author: Timothy Findley                      Title: The Wars

2. What made you interested in this author?

At first glance Timothy Findley did not seem like the type of author that fit my reading style. Though that quickly changed as I researched this famous Canadian author. As I became very interested in him both as a person and an author, it became apparent to me of his constant use of imagery and fragmentation to help create a picture throughout the readers mind. Not only did Findley constantly use exceptional imagery, but he is also well-known for the use of fascinating historical events such as WWI. As I became more familiar with this author it was clear that his writing style had piqued my interest.

3. Brief background on the author.

Born on October 3rd 1930, in Toronto, Ontario, Timothy Findley had been a star of the arts since he was a child. After being abandoned by his father for several years due to the army, and his brother passing away at an early age, Findley had already been experiencing a rocky start to his life. While Findley dropped out of high school at the age of 16, he immediately found a way to rely on a career in acting.

As an adult Findley found himself as an author, and a good one at that. He has written several novels, including; The Wars, a WWI based novel that focuses on a military officer named Robert Ross, who joins the army, mourning the death of his sister.

In 2002, an award was created on his behalf. The Timothy Findley Award was to be awarded to a body of work by a Canadian author, that supported the same style writing that he did. On June 21st, 2002 at the age of 71 Timothy Findley passed away. Known as an aspiring Canadian author and a well-known actor, Findley was well appreciated.

4. Other published works and genres.

Over the years of Findley’s career as an author, he compiled a list of more than 10 novels. That list included; The last of the Crazy People, The Butterfly Palgue, The Wars, Famous Last Words, Not Wanted on the Voyage, The Telling of Lies, Headhunter, The Piano Man’s Daughter, You Went Away, Pilgrim, and Spadework. But throughout his long productive career, he did more than just write novels. As Findley grew, he also wrote several dramatic performances such as The Newcomers, The Stillborn Lover, and Shadows. As if that wasn’t enough, Findley also was the author of three Memoirs. From Stone Orchard, Inside Memory: Pages from a Writer’s Workbook, and possibly his most famous one, Journeyman: Travels of a Writer. When you look at all of these works of art, we are able to see exactly why Timothy Findley is so admirable.

5. Information on particular places, time periods, events of influence or interests to your author.

As Timothy Findley was growing up two very important events occurred. Both of which he brought into effect through The Wars. When Findley was a young child his father left him and his family to go away to war. This is incorporated through Robert Ross choosing to join the army. In the novel he chooses to do this because of the fact that he was mourning his sister Rowena’s death, that he felt guilty about. Just like the novel states, Robert’s sister Rowena dies. While it may seem like this had nothing to do with the author, Timothy Findley, really it plays an extremely important role. As Findley was growing up his brother died, and incorporates that through Rowena in the novel, taking his life experiences and turning them into a novel. These two events play are an extremely influence on Findley’s novel The Wars.

6. Themes favored by the author (gleaned from survey reading).

Often Findley chooses to use the same theme for several of his novels. One theme that I believe stands out from many of the others would be guilt. Though he doesn’t always use it in the same repetitive way, he will often switch up the perspective that the guilt is coming from and who it is projected against. In The Wars the theme of guilt is brought up throughout the entire story from one main character projected to one specific person. As he tells the story from the perspective of Robert Ross, we see that guilt when he feels as though it was his fault that his sister Rowena had died. As the novel progresses and Robert continues to mourn the death of his sister we constantly see this theme of guilt.

7. Other authors compared to……

Over the years Findley has grown to be known for his unique writing style. Though his style of Southern Ontario Gothic is not seen very often, he can be compared to several famous authors including; Margaret Atwood and James Reaney. These two well-known authors include several characteristics into their writing that Findley enjoys using. Whether it is because they tell the story from several different perspectives throughout their books, or the extremely dark and horrific imagery that they use.

8. Critical Articles (Secondary Sources):

  • “Robert Ross is a sensitive young man from Canada. The nineteen-year-old fights in the First World War, where he is exposed to unbelievable violence, constant death and the insanity of trench warfare. Ross is himself victimized, and he sees many around him die or go mad. Eventually, he is accused of betraying his country. An odd story, almost a myth, circulates about Ross’s attempt to save horses at the cost of men during the war. The unravelling of the events suggests that Ross saw that war turned humans into brutes. “

A. Antonow, Resident Scholar

  • “Findley refers to the people prior to World War I as calm and shy, tending to stay away from the public eye as much as possible. Photographs reveal that “everyone at first seems timid – lost – irresolute. Boys and men stand squinting at the camera. Women turn away suspicious. They still maintain a public reticence.” (Findley, p. 11) However, the war causes an upheaval in the lives of everyone, not just the soldiers and their families, and makes people’s opinions in different areas make a complete reversal. For example, you get praise and for killing people, and more people are desperate to get into the view of the public.”(Weiss, p. 93) [Acadia]
  • “Prior to the writing of The Wars, it was unheard of for any writer who had not experienced it first hand to write about “The War to End All Wars”. However, Findley, with his direct and shocking style, was able to surpass this barrier and create one of the most acclaimed novels about World War I. With ‘wars’ being plural, it indicates that the novel is not only about the Great War, but also about internal battles that Robert Ross is fighting with himself as he struggles to adapt to a new way of life in the army and without his sister who he loved very much.” (Acadia)


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