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By Penny van Toorn

In her wonderful examine of Rudy Wiebe's novels, Penny van Toorn offers a brand new approach of examining his paintings. She analyzes Wiebe's fight to regulate the "socially contested territory" of language and ideas that underlie his advanced narrative buildings. Drawing on Wiebe's manuscript fabrics, interviews, and Wiebe's Mennonite historical past, background, and political values, van Toorn supplies the 1st actual resolution to his recognized query: "Where is the voice coming from?"

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Wiebe brings two main contestants onto "life's real battle-field: the soul of man" (PDM 162-63): Deacon Block, who advocates a rigid adherence to cultural tradition and a total separation from the secular world; and Joseph Dueck, Wiebe's mouthpiece, who advances the possibility of practising Christianity without denying historical change or cutting oneself off from the broader social world. As his name suggests, Block cements the separate Mennonite families and individuals of Wapiti into a monolithic community.

Instead of ignoring or denying the fact that many readers feel intimidated by any discourse that resembles a sermon, Wiebe focuses directly on this problem. He pre-empts, parries, and explains the non-Christian reader's possible objections to Christian rhetoric, indeed to anything that resembles an overt message in a work of art. Non-Christian readers see reflected in Abe their own hostility or indifference towards the word of God. However, as Wiebe explores the reasons behind such hostility, he intimates that it conceals a deeper ambivalence.

2 Peace Shall Destroy Many Breaking Open the Capsule R U D Y W I E B E O P E N S Chapter One of his first novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many, with a symbolic breaching of the narrow horizon of a closed, monologic world. In the spring of 1944, Thom Wiens ploughs his wheatfield in the isolated Mennonite farming community of Wapiti in Northern Saskatchewan. Suddenly, a group of Canadian fighter planes comes roaring out of the south. They pass overhead, terrifying the plough horses and engulfing Thorn's world in their noise.

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