This article compares the development of literary modernism in Canada and Australia, focussing particularly on the role played by cultural nationalism, and suggesting reasons for some of the differences between the two locations. It argues that in Canada, writers were able to harness the energies behind nationalism and yoke these to the exploration of new forms and styles, whereas in Australia, many authors saw experimental literary techniques as compromised by their association with British culture, and reacted against them accordingly. Considering the discourse around the modernism/nationalism divide in Australia in light of debates about the native and the cosmopolitan in Canada, the article argues that the polarization of the rhetoric in Australia served to obscure some of the ways in which nationalist writers and critics were also engaging with new literary developments, while in Canada the more explicit nature of the debates had the effect of bringing the opposition out into the open where it could be contested.
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