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Sara Jeannette Duncan’s classic portrait of a turn-of-the-century Ontario town, The Imperialist captures the spirit of an emergent nation through the example of two young dreamers. Impassioned by “the Imperialist idea,” Lorne Murchison rests his bid for office on his vision of a rejuvenated British Empire. His sister Advena betrays a kindred attraction to the high-flown ideals in her love for an unworldly, and unavailable, young minister. Nimbly alternating between politics and romance, Duncan constructs a superbly ironic object-lesson in the Canadian virtue of compromise.
Sympathetic, humorous, and wonderfully detailed, The Imperialist is an astute analysis of the paradoxes of Canadian nationhood, as relevant today as when the novel was first published in 1904.