Louis Greenspan

George Grant: The Moving Image of Eternity

For me, as for many of my contemporaries, Canadian philosopher George Grant's Lament for a Nation (1965) was a crucial book. Ostensibly a lamentation over something finally and definitively lost - an independent Canada - the book paradoxically inspired nationalism and patriotism in a younger generation who came to see Canada with new eyes in the light of Grant's book.   I continued to read Grant avidly after discovering Lament for a Nation, and many years later, in 1984, I found an opportunity to interview him for a series I was then preparing on the Loyalist roots of Canadian political culture.  (Richard Cartwright and the Roots of Canadian Conservatism, Ideas, 1984)  We got on, and I found him open to the idea I quickly proposed of a series devoted to his work.  In 1985, along with recording engineer Rod Sneddon, I spent several invigorating days in conversation with him in his living room at 1622 Walnut St. in Halifax.  Grant was expansive and spoke freely, sometimes dealing with subjects he had never treated in writing.   I shaped three programmes from our edited conversations and presented them on Ideas early in 1986.  A letter from Grant written later that year praising the "care and lucidity" with which I had "enucleated" his thought - a very characteristic word - remains a treasure.  He died two years later.  In 1995 a transcription of the entire interview was published by House of Anansi as George Grant in Conversation and remains available. 

A friend remarked to me the other day that Grant is now nearly forgotten among the younger generations of Canadians.  His appearance here is not likely to change that fate. but perhaps a few will respond to the continuing power of his witness.  Grant wrote powerfully, if sometimes reluctantly, but speech was his glory, and I'm happy to to be able to present him here in full rhetorical flight...