Mary Jane Edwards is Distinguished Research Professor and director of the Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts (CEECT) at Carleton University.
William Kirby's Le Chien d'or / The Golden Dog, a dramatic historical romance that vividly details the intertwined French and English foundations of Canada, is one of the nation's best-known pieces of nineteenth-century literature. A complicated publishing history, however, resulted in severe distortions of the text, so that each edition of the novel moved further from the author's original vision. Now, in the final work produced by the Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts at Carleton University, editor Mary Jane Edwards returns this beloved piece of literary history to its intended form. First published in 1877, Le Chien d'or draws upon the threads of legend spun around the real-life tablet of the Golden Dog, which can still be seen in Quebec City. The novel's author William Kirby begins his tale in the 1740s, with the murder of the prosperous merchant who lived in the house that bore the tablet, and brings his work to a tragic end that coincides with the destruction of France's North American empire. Weaving historical, literary, and religious allusions together with a powerful lyricism, Le Chien d'or develops an epic narrative of the heroic past and promising future of the Dominion of Canada. Though many versions of Le Chien d'or have been published in both French and English, very few people have read what the author intended to see in print. This edition brings Kirby's unfulfilled legacy full circle by presenting a critically reliable version of his iconic Canadian novel.