Stephen Gill’s The Coexistence (novel):

A Rejection of Postmodernism and Posthumansism

 

Professor Dr. Daniel Bratton

 

The republic of reptiles may be much closer than many cynical,

disengaged postmoderns, especially those preoccupied with

academic networking and the promotion of their own careers,

would care to believe. In these dark times of state-sponsored

terrorism and global conflict—with the republic of reptiles

waiting to be born—Stephen Gill’s work demands our utmost

attention and asks us to cultivate a greater mindfulness of the

world around us. The Coexistence is a wake-up call…

 

 

As I previously noted in my introduction to Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal’s Discovering Stephen Gill, on the surface Stephen Gill seems a perfect candidate for postmodern status. His biographical background in itself certainly supports such eligibility: a child of Sialkot, his imagination shaped in the shadows of the snow-covered peaks of Kashmir, he was transplanted to Karol Bagh, New Delhi, where as an adolescent he experienced first-hand the horrors unleashed by the partition of India, his family being targeted as Christians. This nightmare led to exile, first to Ethiopia, where he lived for three years; then to England; and finally to Canada, where he soon discovered that cherished foods, clothing and places were of little interest to a people whose collective imagination had been shaped by a very different snow-covered landscape.

 

Further support for Stephen Gill’s marginal status is provided by Linda Hutcheon’s The Canadian Postmodern, which identifies “ex-centrism” as an essential element of postmodernity. Hutcheon argues that Canadians in general perceive themselves as marginalized; furthermore, within Canada, those who are not made to feel part of the dominant culture by reason of race and ethnicity feel even a further degree of marginalization. Although he has stated his belief that “home is where our feet are,” Gill’s position in his adopted land remains “ex-centric,” and he clearly identifies with the deracination of many “new Canadians.” For example, in “New Canadian in Toronto,” a poem from Shrine (2008), the speaker remarks,

 

My mind and body remain engaged

all the time

grabbing some bones.

The lips of this city

smell like the plastic flowers

and eyes display

the festival of the orphans.

Souls carry hidden wounds. (130)

 

Stephen Gill’s recently published autobiographical novel The Coexistence (2011), based on his earlier work Immigrant (1978), provides ample evidence of this sense of alienation and deracination, yet in this article I will explore what makes The Coexistence a decidedly un-postmodern work of fiction.

 

The protagonist, Raghu Nath, who begins the novel as a graduate student in Ottawa—Gill himself pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa, dropping out of the programme in disillusionment--finds himself a stranger in a strange land of coldness (both climatic and interpersonal), prejudice and provincialism. Certainly Canada of the late 1960s-late 1970s, the historical setting of the novel, though forever congratulating itself on its cosmopolitanism and general atmosphere of tolerance, remained in many ways a bastion of Eurocentric privilege—especially in the publishing and academic worlds, where power was still concentrated in the hands of a WASP elite. Having metamorphosed from a colony of England to what Canadian nationalists contended was a cultural and economic colony of the United States, Canada experienced a schizophrenic geo-political sense of marginality that must have been a perfect breeding ground for Stephen Gill’s personal feelings of diasporic estrangement.

 

          Although he has always been quick to acknowledge his debt to—and admiration for—Canada and its pluralistic, democratic society, Gill’s writing often attests to his personal sense of displacement as a foreigner in a land of foreigners. R.K Singh and Mitali De Sarkar have observed, “Reading Gill’s verses one finds he is his Indian self seeking a voice in a new land. His social norms, standards and values are neither fully Indian nor fully Western, but rather international. . . . With the blurring of boundaries in the mental landscape that once surrounded his entire being, Gill is subjected to a nomadic subjectivity concerning his status in a new land. In this new setting he is constantly territorialised, deterritorialised, and reterritorialised . . . .”[i] Here again, Stephen Gill seems a perfect embodiment of the postmodern condition.

 

However, where Stephen Gill decidedly parts company with the postmoderns, with their emphasis upon particularities and, in Linda Hutcheon’s words, “acknowledgment of self-situating limitations of address,” is in his pursuit, as a humanist, of the universal. (One might note here that Hutcheon has also observed of postmodern fiction that it “is not really any more democratic or accessible than earlier modernist fiction,” being equally contrived, manipulative and elitist.) If, as she argues, the postmodern exhibits an “urge to trouble, to question, to make problematic and provisional [the modernist] desire for order or truth,” [ii] Stephen Gill’s work, while acknowledging enormous obstacles to the quest for order and truth, nevertheless insists upon the absolute of universal peace. I suppose in this sense we could term Stephen Gill an essentialist, though without the negative connotations surrounding this word in poststructuralist theory.

 

Gill builds upon the theme of universal peace, the cornerstone of the corpus of his writing, in developing several related topics in The Coexistence: the rapidly developing Global Village, and the failure of humans to keep up with technological advances; a concomitant need for a Parliament of Nations, the present United Nations lacking the teeth to interfere in the domestic affairs of nations or to function as “global authority for legislative, executive and judicial institutions to maintain order” (180); the need for governments to recognize the multicultural, pluralistic facets of the Global Village; the envisioned Parliament of Nation’s obligation to enforce disarmament, since present treaties are in the interest of elites with vested national interests; recognition of humanity’s instinct for survival, opposed to what Gill deems the myth of a Darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest through global and nationalistic violence; and, finally, promulgation of a philosophy of “live and let live,” with love of humanity to be the base of the Parliament of Nations. I will return to these themes in exploring why Stephen Gill has eschewed not only postmodernism’s rejection of absolutes and universality, but also modernism’s turn toward experimentation and subjectivity.

 

In the second chapter of The Coexistence, Raghu, Gill’s protagonist, musing on the implications of the rapid shrinking of the world though modern technology, observes:

 

these changes in the physical world are occurring at a much faster speed than humans[can] cope with. Psychologically or emotionally, humans have failed, on the whole, to adjust themselves to these changes. Consequently, they still inherit this global village without being able to elect its mayor and council to govern it. This has resulted in chaos, and other problems, some of which have become threats for the survival of the villagers. (17)

 

Gill’s answer to this dilemma is a Parliament of Nations.

 

In discussing Gill’s devotion to World Federalism, Rochelle L. Holt has noted that while most writers in the 1990s were struggling to stress the differences between many cultures, Stephen Gill was “professing the opposite, a more complex cognition which the masses have not yet learned in yearning for separate glorification of each race, each colour, each sex, each age . . . the poet tells us through his work that we are beyond brotherhood and sisterhood as we achieve the forgotten meaning of ‘neighbourhood,’ not isolated and separate but one large melting pot where we all appreciate our uniqueness while affirming our similarities.”[iii] In The Coexistence, Raghu remarks,

 

Basically, all humans think alike. People are people everywhere. They all eat and breathe the same air and have the same emotions. They all walk on the same earth, sleep under the same sky and receive energy from the same sun. They all harbor dreams, fears and expect love. Physical characteristics defy the assumption that all the members of the same ethnic group possess the same color of their skin and hair. It is better to think that a human is part of the world community than to think that he or she is a part of a certain ethnic community. (145-146)

 

Along the same lines, in a 2004 interview Stephen Gill observed, “My fellowship with people of diverse creeds has convinced me that people are people. This conviction is based on my visit[s] to different countries. I have discovered that people are people no matter what their beliefs and cultural values are.”[iv]

 

Indeed, in exploring the implications of the rapidly developing Global Village, Gill posits in The Coexistence the belief that in the future there will “not be much that was unique left, except the climate, topography and museums of the old order. There will be universality in the food that is eaten, in the beverages that are drunk, in the sports that are enjoyed and in much more.”  Here again, he bucks the postmodern tendency to privilege and promote particularities, even speaking of the “glory of globalization” as “humanity is nearing the stage of maturity” (145). Apropos, Gill celebrates interracial marriage, arguing that the children of such marriages tend to be more global-minded, display greater tolerance towards diversity in others, respect different religious practices, develop a sense of self and ability to deal with conflicts, and be less judgmental of others. Raghu is “convinced that inter-racial unions would be a big step towards peace.”[v]

 

Worth noting here is that the founder of the modern Theosophical movement, Madame Blavatsky, in The Secret Doctrine, argued that occult philosophy teaches that new Race and Races are preparing to be born, and that this process has already begun in the United States: “Then, as they increase, and their numbers become with every age greater, one day they will awake to find themselves in a majority. It is the present men who will then begin to be regarded a exceptional mongrels, until these die out in their turn in civilized lands; surviving only in small groups on islands—the mountain peaks of to-day—where they will vegetate, degenerate, and finally die out . . .”[vi] We will return to Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists later in discussing Stephen Gill’s views on war.

 

Still, while situating pluralism centre stage in his plan for peaceful existence, to be achieved through “the acceptance of diversity in the racial and cultural mix up” (38), Gill bemoans the cultural ghettoes that have been created through “the cult of ethnicity,” where one ethnic group is isolated from another, “strengthening the muscles of difference” (75). In coming to Canada, Raghu happily embraces multiculturalism, yet he soon discovers that the government’s policy of multiculturalism has a downside.[vii] In garnering the “ethnic vote,” as well as combating Quebec nationalism, it creates fear: “To get the votes of newcomers, the Government has taken measures at the expenses of the majority. Centuries-old traditions and values of Canada are being eroded in the name of newcomers” (250). Raghu discovers that these measures include investment of taxpayers’ money in discrete cultural groups, in particular within the print media, thus opening doors “for jealousies and rivalries between and among ethnic media and writers.” In effect, these policies create what Gill calls “golden ghettoes of ethnic communities”:

 

                        These ghettoes were the outcome of the fear of the unknown. The enclaves of particular ethnicities in certain areas made other ethnic groups feel unsafe and alienated. The ghettoes could have easily become hubs of unwanted activities. Most ghettoes were the outcome of xenophobia, an irrational fear of losing identity to foreigners or white Canadians. Xenophobia can be in the form of fear or anger. It is often confused with prejudice and racism because in practice it is hard to differentiate one from the other. Prejudice and racism are based on hatred, but xenophobia is based on irrational fear . . . (133)

 

  Circumscribed by these ethnic ghettoes, many immigrants who are visible minorities find it difficult to penetrate and enter into the mainstream of Canadian society; yet even those within this mainstream exhibit what, to Raghu, seems a profound sense of loneliness.

 

  This is another downside of multiculturalism in its Canadian manifestation. Raghu and his friend Akram, a part-time coworker in the university library who is also a professor at Karachi University, Pakistan, frequently discourse upon Canada’s being a terribly lonely place. Akram argues that Canadians—or at least the people he has met in Ottawa--are lonelier than people from India and Pakistan, though once in Canada expatriates from these nations find themselves cut off from each other as well: “All are shut within their own cages.”  Whites and Asians don’t mix, and even among themselves, the former strike Raghu and his compatriots as experiencing loneliness in a “rather acute form.”[viii]

 

  Gill’s panacea for this loneliness is to get “into the chamber of oneself for a dialogue,” to find time to enjoy one’s own company, and to “know what we think about ourselves, including our true identities as we think of other identities such as a driver’s license, passport, if we are tall or short, rich or poor, black or white” (208). We need to free ourselves of these false identities, and in fact loneliness can be our best friend in allowing us to do so. As well, Gill offers another remedy, growing flowers (literally and figuratively), to keep occupied both mentally and physically:

 

   If a citizen is afraid of losing the sweetness of identify in the sweetness of other identities, the result is going to be loneliness. This is a fear in the multicultural communities of today. Fear is the root of loneliness which assumes the shape of a fire-breathing monster, threatening to assassinate the animating principle of peace. To protect peace from this monster, it is best to be friendly with the beauties in the garden of cultures. (208-209)

 

  It all boils down to loneliness being the result of a breakdown in communication. As the narrator observes near the beginning of the novel, it is essential to recognize the power of communication; metaphorically, communication is oxygen, and a lack of communication “is the vault of death. To avoid this vault, it is necessary to live in an open panorama of intensive communication.” (18)

 

  Politicians, preoccupied with their own elections and re-elections and under pressure by special lobby groups, cannot stop conflicts, and their own rhetorical strategies often circumvent meaningful communication between individuals, ethnic groups and nations. To Gill, everything is interconnected—hence the title of his novel—yet political systems block the lines of communication essential to civilization’s very survival. Again, only a parliament of nations can break through this impasse. Gill argues that “[i]nstinct for survival is extraordinarily powerful. It is a much stronger drive than the drive for eating and reproduction. When people face the danger of annihilation, they help and support even strangers.” (173)

 

  This instinct for survival leads us to one of Gill’s leit motifs in The Coexistence, the non-aggressive, co-operative behaviour known as “live and let live.”[ix] Readers will be familiar with the best-known example of this non-violent response to the lethal demands of war—the Christmas Truce of 1914. However, Gill goes back much further and sees live and let live as “the philosophy of the Buddha . . . more relevant in the world of today  than it was about two thousand five hundred [years] ago” (159). He presents it as the blueprint for his plan to bring to fruition the instinct of survival. Raghu expostulates,

 

                            That blueprint is right here in the gospel of multiculturalism and multiculturalism is child of the mystery wombed in live and let live.  The ability to appreciate every heaven in the sunny eyes of multiculturalism. The world needs an authority to let everyone cooperate in partnership to bathe under these eyes. In other words, the global village needs a democratically elected government to declare wars and preparations for wars illegal for the good of every human being. (216)

 

  Raghu, in referring to the unequal global distribution of natural resources, adds that justice will not work without love, and that this love refers to Agape, “ that is, about understanding the love of God that is in abundance in every heart but is suppressed because of fear and tension” (220). This corresponds to the interference of generals and politicians that squelched the display of non-aggressive behaviour by the lower ranks in the trenches on the day of the Christmas Truce. Love has power, argues Raghu, and the “base of parliament of nations would be live and let live that is also love.” (220)

 

  Keeping these themes in mind, let us return to Gill’s relation to postmodernity. In her insightful essay “Angst of Alienation in Stephen Gill’s Poetry,” Shweta Saxena has pinpointed what essentially divides Stephen Gill from postmodernity. In writing of the poems in Shrine, Saxena observes that the recurrent images of loneliness and despair remind one of Kierkegaard’s existential angst. If, rather than dismissing or suppressing such feelings, one ‘faces up” to this angst, the possibility for transformation exists. Stephen Gill’s poetry and prose never make light of, or avoid, his personal despair; indeed, it might be argued that the overall mood of much of his early writing is a pessimism and despondency brought on by the stupidity of the human race. However, Gill draws a Kirkegaardian line in the sand, refusing to surrender to his despair. Whereas the postmodern sensibility frequently responds to this condition through the employment of irony and parody, with a concomitant rejection of universals and “master narratives,” Gill expresses what Saxena describes as “full faith in the notion of universal brotherhood.”[x] It is this commitment to the absolutes of unconditional love and universal peace that keeps him from retreating into irony, cynicism and relativism, and this refusal is at the very heart of The Coexistence.

 

At the end of the novel, Raghu responds to his friend Grace’s question as to whether love plays any part in peace:

 

          Absence of love results in physical and psychological ailments. The self-surrounding cells of egotism display the nudity of modern savagery, and savagery can be treated with love. A person is born to love and to receive love. Love is the binding force for families, planets, every atom and every part of every individual. Love is the thread that unites humans and non-humans at every level. Life disintegrates where the rays of love do not reach. Love is the language of God and God is peace. (279)

 

Still, while accepting the absolutes of Peace, God, and Love, Gill can be seen as in accord with the postmoderns in the desire to frustrate any resolution of differences that involves the absorption of the marginal by the centre, unless, for Gill, that centre be one of universal brotherhood where all differences are accepted and recognized. While Gill’s poems have other characteristics that connect to the postmodern—Patricia Prime has written of his “gift of language, the immediacy of his wit and word-play”[xi]—his poetic irony is essentially verbal and not deconstructive, nor is it designed to neutralize the possibility of universal truths. In his prose, notably The Coexistence, Gill has chosen not to follow the ironic, deconstructive path of postmodernism, nor does his writing take the experimental, subjective direction of modernism. (This is not to say that Gill hesitates to use an arresting and creative trope if it serves to convey his vision of global peace and harmony, as we have seen in several quotations from the novel.)

 

What The Coexistence most resembles, in fact, is a good, old-fashioned Bildungsroman, where the reader follows the vicissitudes of a young, idealistic hero in his journey toward self-discovery and, in Gill’s contribution to this genre, global understanding. The reader feels that the author has deliberately rejected artifice (in Gill’s case, self-conscious style) in order to convey most effectively and directly his ideas, and The Coexistence is unashamedly polemical in tone.

 

At the same time, Gill’s polemics do not preclude literary distinction. For example, his characterization is accomplished and convincing, especially in the depiction of characters who embody essential North American traits and predicaments, as in the case of the following two women:

 

Maple King represented modern civilization which had robbed man’s natural impulses. She made deliberate attempts to suppress the natural flow of this spring. She had intellectualized sex. She wore jeans and loved to drink and smoke. (58-59)

 

Mrs. Patterson was the product of the modern environment that shapes the feelings of separation from the world, causing helplessness or feelings of low esteem of oneself. [Raghu’s] landlord told him further that it was an emotional state that leads a person to think that his or her life is empty. A person is said to be a social animal but he is born alone and dies alone. (64)

 

As well, there is the haunting Prabha, a young Indian librarian who commits suicide shortly after she and Raghu have discussed the prevalence of loneliness in the West. Here as well, Prabha serves a polemical function as a character, for just as Raghu—a well-educated, conscientious, and talented Indian—finds himself unacknowledged within Canadian society, so does Prabha, finally driven to self-destruction. (Though having a graduate degree in library science, she has been underemployed at the university library as a cataloger, with less qualified coworkers holding higher positions; Raghu, pounding the pavement in search of any position, ends up collecting unemployment insurance and finally going on welfare.)

 

Nor is the novel without compelling plot development in Gill’s charting the course of the hero through his problematic encounters with strangers and figures of authority. Within this plot Raghu’s convictions about universal love, live and let live, and the need for a world congress intensify and further define themselves through his interactions with the other characters. Although there is no discernible climax to the plot, the developments in the narrative involve the reader far more than would a non-fictional exegesis on the same themes. Gill is so intent on imparting his thesis that he simply will not allow self-conscious artifice or contrived plot development to get in the way, yet the novelistic form serves as a most appropriate vehicle by which to convey his overriding ideas.

 

It would also be fundamentally wrong to regard Stephen Gill’s determinedly un-postmodern—and therefore critically unfashionable—literary quest for world peace as in any way quixotic—his vision is that of an uncompromising realist who has witnessed first-hand the unbearable alternatives to universal brotherhood. Indeed, I find his exploration of these alternatives the most fascinating part of the novel. We have already seen through an exploration of his thematic concerns that the subject of war overshadows the narrative, so much so that, upon further consideration, the horrors of war may in fact be seen to lie at the very heart of The Coexistence.

 

As Raghu remarks to Bell, the president of the association of poets in Montreal, “Let us face it. War is the most terrifying kind of human interaction.” He elaborates:

 

Both victors and losers suffer. Wars are mostly for economic gains but they cause chaos. When there is economic chaos, leaders, called misleaders, take the nation to war, fabricating the giant of fear. They tell citizens that they are fighting for the flag or for God. They hypnotize the population with the power of their talks, buying the media with the taxpayer’s money. . . .

 

The country suffers also because the best brains are hired to discover deadlier engines to kill more people. These brains could have been used to find means to fight cancers, AIDS, and other diseases. On the other hands, [sic] they are engaged in finding ways to annihilate their perceived enemies. This fact and also the industry of weapon development are a drain on energy and other natural resources. These have profound consequences on the economies of nations. It also affects the environment. Moreover, military spending causes inflations and recessions. (155)

 

Raghu further argues that war is not an innate biological drive; rather, aggression is social learning. He mentions the showing of a video in front of a group of children in which a person kicked a clown doll, after which the children imitated his actions, some repeatedly engaging in such behaviour months later. In addition to these logical objections to the argument that aggression in humans is innate and war inevitable,  Raghu provides some controversial and intriguing theories about war’s destruction of ancient civilizations. These historical allusions are in fact highly relevant to the present.

 

To begin with, he points out that archaeologists have found skeletons from thousands of years ago in Harapa and Mohenjo-Daro, India, that are radioactive “like those found in Nagasaki and Hiroshima after the atom bombs were dropped.” The radioactive levels of some of these skeletons are 50 times greater than normal; as well, “[o]ther cities in northern India also show indications of explosion of high magnitude. Harapa and Mohenjo-Daro were destroyed some 3000 years before Christ” (207). Sometimes Raghu believes that the next/last atomic war will occur in India as well, fought with Pakistan over occupation of the Kashmir region.

 

                     Additionally, he cites the case of Atlantis (this in conversation with Prabha, just before her suicide). Plato, he observes, was the first of many to record the existence of Atlantis, contending that it sank into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean through an earthquake. Raghu tells Prabha that Atlantis “was a naval power that had colonized several parts of Europe and Africa about 9.600 years before Christ. A group of historians are of the opinion that it had an advanced civilization that had nuclear capabilities.”[xii] He does not concur with Plato about the demise of Atlantis: to Raghu, its destruction was the result of sabotage or terrorism. Noting that “Theosophists in the late 19th century believed that Atlanteans had airplanes and explosives,”[xiii] he takes things a bit further, adding his belief that Atlantis “was evaporated by nuclear attacks by the enemies [—] I mean, terrorists.”[xiv] Unfortunately, books about Atlantic civilization have been destroyed over millennia, with the burning of the library (several times) at Alexandria, the outlawing and destruction of books by Qin Shi Huang in China, and incineration of the Nalanda Library in India by a Muslim invader, so his conjectures remain theoretical. 

 

Raghu contends that if the direction of humanity is not altered, a similar fate could well await the present world. “Fear, I will call it an agent of Lucifer, is the prime factor here” (177). He elaborates:

 

The agents of Lucifer will be used to create a republic of reptiles. The moon and the sun will appear and disappear alone for millions of years before the climate on earth will be conducive again to give birth to another Adam and Eve to start another civilization. The new Adams and Eves may not be in the shape of the human of today. They may be in another shape because of the radiation. (181)

 

Gill devotes almost all of Chapter Thirteen of The Coexistence to the consequences of nuclear war. When Bell telephones Raghu for a contribution to a publication she is to edit, he launches into a long, prophetic jeremiad in which Gill essentially drops any pretense of writing fiction:

 

The ecosystem will be damaged on a scale unknown since recorded history. In case of a full scale war, all that will be left is a republic of reptiles. The grass will be the last to die out. Because of the ecological changes, every nation will suffer and die slowly for various reasons. Even a low level of attack will disrupt the natural environment.[xv]

 

The reader feels at this point that Gill, bristling with urgency and impatience to impart his cautionary message, simply can’t be bothered with the conventions of the novel, at least in its postmodern incarnation. With the prospect of annihilation looming on the horizon, it is clearly not the time to engage in irony, relativism, and deconstructive contrivance. Life is much too serious for that.

 

Indeed, just the other day I received an electronic message from Sierra Club Canada about the government’s new “anti-environmental” Bill C-38, which essentially repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in its entirety. A consequence of this bill is that the Sierra Club has been forced to withdraw its application “for a judicial review to allow 1600 tonnes of nuclear waste from Bruce Power Inc. to be shipped through the Great Lakes and on to Sweden without conducting an environmental assessment.”  The Sierra Club communication notes that, in addition to the prospect of shipping highly radioactive material, including plutonium, across the Great Lakes, a bigger and more dangerous issue is that such a precedent will likely lead to thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste crossing the Great Lakes on a regular basis, not only “a huge new environmental threat, but a terrorist-seeking-plutonium threat too!”[xvi] My first thought was Stephen Gill’s contention that Atlantis had been “evaporated” by nuclear attacks from the enemies—that is, terrorists. The republic of reptiles may be much closer than many cynical, disengaged postmoderns, especially those preoccupied with academic networking and the promotion of their own careers, would care to believe.

 

As Raghu tells his friend Mohan,

 

Peace-loving citizens who are in the majority should speak out. Their silence encourages the demons that nourish on fear. Peace-loving Germans who were in the majority thought of the Nazis as a bunch of stupid citizens and remained silent. It was their silence in Germany, as it was in India[,] that nourished the Lucifers to grow strong. The first step to block their growth is awareness. In other words, to build the bridges of communication. (138)

 

Stephen Gill helps us understand that without these bridges of communication, without love and compassion, our lives are essentially meaningless—and increasingly imperiled. In this age of postmodernity, one senses a growing tendency to regard life itself as no longer sacred, the suffering and pain of all living things often becoming the butt of tasteless jokes and snide remarks flying through cyberspace. Irony has become a defense mechanism against dehumanizing technology and brutal irrationality, a means of reconciliation to a frightening world where the postmodern appears to be in danger of slipping into the “posthuman.” In these dark times of state-sponsored terrorism and global conflict—with the republic of reptiles waiting to be born—Stephen Gill’s work demands our utmost attention and asks us to cultivate a greater mindfulness of the world around us. The Coexistence is a wake-up call, but are enough people listening?

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Ashworth, Tony. Trench Warfare 1914-1918 The Live and Let Live System. Teaneck, New Jersey: Holmes & Meir, 1980.

 

Barlow, Maude. “The Great Lakes: The First Victim of New Legislation,” Council of Canadians, Web, August 23, 2012.

 

Bennett, John. “Bill C-38 Inflicts First Significant Blow to Environmental Justice in Canada,” Sierra Club Canada. Web, August 20, 2012.

 

Blavatsky, H. P. Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology. Los Angeles: The Theosophy Company, 1931.

 

Bratton, Daniel. Introduction to Discovering Stephen Gill: A Collection of Papers and Articles. Ed. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal. Delhi: Authorspress, 2008, vii-xii.

 

Cranston, Syliva. H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life & Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993.

 

Gill, Stephen. The Coexistence: A Novel. Delhi: Orientalia, 2011.

 

-------.  Shrine (Rev. Ed.): Poems about Peace and Social Concerns. Allahabad: Cyberwit.net, 2008.

 

Holt, Rochelle L. “A Call for Peace,” The Pilot (USA), January 20, 1992.

 

Hutcheon Linda. The Canadian Postmodern: A Study of Contemporary Fiction. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998.

 

Rees, Simon.”The Christmas Truce.” Web, www.firstworldwar.com/features/Christmastruce.htm.

 

Saragni, Jaydeep. “Interview with Stephen Gill,” The Atlantic Literary Review (India), 5:3-4 (July-September & October-December, 2004.

 

 

Saxena, Shweta. “Angst of Alienation in Stephen Gill’s Poetry.” Discovering Stephen Gill: A Collection of Papers and Articles. Ed. Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal. Laxmi Nagar, Delhi: Authorspress, 2008), 83-90.

 

Singh, R.K. and Mitali De Sarker, “A Search for Elysium,” Glimpses. Montreal: Vesta Publications, 1998.

 

Tindall, William York. D.H. Lawrence and Susan His Cow. New York: Columbia University Press, 1939.

 



 

Daniel Bratton, a former professor of English in the Faculty of Letters at Doshisha

University in Kyoto, Japan, received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (Canada)

and taught at the same university before moving to Japan. He is back

 to Canada and is actively involved in teaching and writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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