Aspects of David Adams Richards’ Fictional World

by William Connor (Author)
©2022 Monographs VIII, 190 Pages


This book approaches David Adams Richards’ work by focusing on the evolution of the fictional world shared by his 18 novels. This world is arguably the most distinctive feature of Richards’ fiction. Along with the narrative strategies he employs to capture it, Richards’ fictional world develops steadily over the course of his long career, and while always rooted in his native Miramichi Region of New Brunswick, it gradually evolves to include many other geographical areas and diverse social milieus. Because Richards’ fictional world is as much a set of values and convictions about the human condition as a representation of the material world, understanding where individual novels fit in its development provides a valuable perspective on each. With highly original recurring characters maturing from their teen years to old age in the background, his novels reflect perceptively on social and cultural trends from the mid-twentieth century on. As well as exploring the development of this fictional world, the book identifies other potentially fruitful approaches to Richards’ work. It is written primarily for academics, graduate students, and senior undergraduate English specialists interested in Richards’ fiction, but it is designed to be accessible for high school teachers teaching Richards’ novels and for dedicated fans of his writing, as well.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Foundations of the Fictional World
  • Chapter Three: Fundamental Features of the Fictional World
  • Chapter Four: Discovering the Fictional World: The First Trilogy
  • The Coming of Winter
  • Blood Ties
  • The First Trilogy and Lives of Short Duration
  • Chapter Five: Road to the Stilt House: A Transitional Novel
  • Chapter Six: The Second Trilogy
  • Chapter Seven: Emergence of the Supernatural
  • Hope in the Desperate Hour
  • The Bay of Love and Sorrows
  • Chapter Eight: The Fictional World in the Twenty-First Century
  • Mercy Among the Children
  • Fictional World 2000
  • Chapter Nine: Personal History I
  • River of the Brokenhearted
  • The Friends of Meager Fortune
  • Chapter Ten: Personal History II
  • The Lost Highway
  • Chapter Eleven: Crimes and Mysteries I
  • Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul
  • Crimes Against My Brother
  • Chapter Twelve: Crimes and Mysteries II: Richards’ Concluding Trilogy
  • Principles to Live By
  • Mary Cyr
  • Darkness
  • Chapter Thirteen: Future Considerations
  • Subjects
  • A Postcolonial Approach
  • The Mi’Kmaq
  • Catholicism—The Religion and the Faith
  • Professions
  • Psychology
  • Ideas and Influences
  • Techniques
  • Humor
  • Narrative Experiments
  • Fiction and Film
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

←vi | vii→



Other writers of book-length studies of David Adams Richards’ work have had the advantage of being able to discuss their views with him over extended periods. I have not had that advantage. What I have to say is based almost entirely on reading—his fiction itself, his essays and memoirs, and the texts of interviews. Tony Tremblay’s partial biography has also been a major asset.

It may, however, be helpful to know that Richards and I do share some experiences. Although I lived about 90 miles to the south of Richards’ Miramichi Region, we grew up in smaller communities in New Brunswick at about the same time—early Baby Boom. We also attended university in Fredericton. I did not know David in Fredericton because he withdrew to finish his second novel in the year I enrolled as a mature student—1973—and by the time he returned as writer-in-residence in 1983, I was teaching at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. However, the years in which Richards was associated with the two universities in Fredericton had a lasting influence on his fictional world, so knowing the place and many of the people he dealt with there has helped me to understand his experiences.

Richards has been kind enough to answer a few emailed questions during this book’s final stages of preparation, but his published writing is by far my primary source. Even today, there is no substitute for careful reading.

←vii | viii→

←viii | 1→

Chapter One


David Adams Richards self-published an early novel, he writes poetry that is only sometimes collected in easily accessible locations, and he had a collection of short stories published in the 1970s. Tony Tremblay’s partial biography, David Adams Richards of the Miramichi, includes useful discussions of these. Richards also works on film scripts, sometimes original and sometimes adaptations of his novels. His biography, Lord Beaverbrook, is well worth reading both for the insight it provides into Max Aitken and for what it reveals about Richards himself. But my primary focus in this study is the underlying fictional world of Richards’ 18 novels, and that in itself is a daunting task that will leave much unsaid.

For perspective on the scope of his work, here follows a list of Richards’ novels with dates of first publication. Shortened titles I will use are noted in parentheses.

1. The Coming of Winter (Winter) (1974)

2. Blood Ties (1976)

3. Lives of Short Duration (Lives) (1981)

4. Road to the Stilt House (Road) (1985)

5. Nights Below Station Street (Nights) (1988)

6. Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace (Evening Snow) (1990)

7. For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down (Wounded) (1993)

8. Hope in the Desperate Hour (Hope) (1996)←1 | 2→

9. The Bay of Love and Sorrows (Bay) (1998)

10. Mercy Among the Children (Mercy) (2000)

11. River of the Brokenhearted (Brokenhearted) (2003)

12. The Friends of Meager Fortune (Meager Fortune) (2006)

13. The Lost Highway (Highway) (2007)


VIII, 190
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (December)
David Adams Richards Fictional worlds originality rural Canada Atlantic Canada principles values compassionate characterization personal integrity Aspects of David Adams Richards’ Fictional World William Connor
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. VIII, 190 pp.

Biographical notes

William Connor (Author)

William Connor has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English from the University of New Brunswick and an M.A. in journalism from Western University. He is currently Full Professor in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. His publications include critical books, writing textbooks, anthologies and articles.


Title: Aspects of David Adams Richards’ Fictional World
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