A Fiction Book About Canadian Academia in the 1960s Involving Marshall McLuhan & Northrop Frye: The Devil’s Party: Who Killed the Sixties?

08Jul16
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While certain characters, such as Marshal McLuhan and Northrop Frye, resemble real people, this is a work of fiction
“Lennie Boyd entered the scene in a tumultuous decade which he helped create, and it took all he had.”
The Devil’s Party: Who Killed the Sixties?   –   By Bob Rodgers
“The Devil’s Party is unapologetically a ‘literary’ novel about literary people.”
The Devil’s Party follows Jason, an intellectual tenderfoot, and Lennie, a charismatic and tortured literary phenomenon, as they finish their Bachelor’s degrees in Manitoba and begin graduate school at the University of Toronto. Driven by the works of William Blake and mentored by intellectual heavy-weights Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, the pair dive into the rabbit hole of scholastic passions and set out to wrestle with the ruling elite and rattle the ‘mind-forged manacles’ of the complacent majority. Their stories echo a culture stepping away from the quiescent 1950s towards the turbulent and dramatic ‘60s, and together they wrestle with the birth of new ideas and the burden of knowledge that threatens to consume them.

The Devil’s Party traces the rise and fall of the spirit of protest in the 1960s through the exploits of Lennie Boyce. A product of Winnipeg’s storied North End, Lennie explodes on the campus of the University of Manitoba in 1958 as a Wunderkind, with a phobia for social niceties and a tongue like a switch blade.

An upstart from the wilds of Northern Manitoba, Jason Faraday joins Lennie’s circle. Lennie’s forebears are Ukrainian; Jason’s Irish. Lennie considers them both spawn of the derelicts of Europe. A bond is formed which sees them through graduation and, at the dawn of the 60s, off to graduate school at the University of Toronto. Their paths continue to cross throughout the 60s.

Lennie’s spiritual soulmates are Spengler and Blake. For him they are the great decoders of history. His University of Toronto mentors include Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan and a number of others who enter the story under their own names. But not all is poetry and high culture. There are perilous clashes with authority back to back with bizarre sexual peccadilloes. There is something of Raskolnikov in Lennie, also something of Tom Jones.

Lennie assails what he sees as the smug complacency of the elite, the grim rectitude of the moral majority, the obsessive materialism of the obedient classes, the brainwashing of the populace by warmongers, giant corporations, their lackeys in brain washing, the growing irrelevance of the universities, and above all the sanctimonious spoilers of sexual joy. Teaching at the University of Manitoba he quickly gets a reputation as a firebrand. Among his students and his more stout-hearted colleagues, he becomes a lodestone who draws them into his vision of the rampage for change sweeping the world. Read more about the book at http://goo.gl/KcLvUl .

About Bob Rodgers: Bob Rodgers taught English at McGill and the University of Toronto before moving into film and television. As executive producer at the U of T Media Centre he wrote, produced, and/or directed more than 100 educational programs, among them a 30 part series: “The Bible and Literature, a Personal View by Northrop Frye”. Later as freelance filmmaker he made documentaries for the NFB (“Fiddlers of James Bay”) and the CBC National Network (“NWT: One-third of Canada”). In 2001 Bob self-published a short story collection, “Secrets From Home”. He has since written two novels: “Hot Ice”, about diamonds, ecology, and caribou in NWT; and “The Devil’s Party”, his take on the 1960s among the fledgling literati of the counter-culture.
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Read the book review of Robert Fulford in the National Post (June 27, 2016): Bob Rodgers examines who killed the ’60s by bringing Canadian icons back to life on the page – http://goo.gl/PbukJx . Thanks to Ruthanne Wrobel for this information.
This book is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
Marshall McLuhan at the Coach House on the University of Toronto campus, c 1950s (courtesy Robert Lansdale Phtoogrpahy, University of Toronto Archives).

Marshall McLuhan at the Coach House on the University of Toronto campus, c 1950s (courtesy Robert Lansdale Photography, University of Toronto Archives).

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