They Have Bodies, by Barney Allen
A Critical Edition
Imprint: University of Ottawa Press
Sexy, saucy, and unsparingly satirical, Barney Allen’s They Have Bodies is the most experimental book written by a Canadian until well into the 1960s. Gregory Betts reintroduces this censored “realistic novel in eleven chapters and three acts”.
Published in 1929, and almost instantly censored by the Toronto City Police, They Have Bodies has been completely overlooked by generations of scholars and writers interested in the Canadian avant-garde. It is not just the novel’s extreme formal innovation that is immediately startling about They Have Bodies. There is also its close attention to the depraved, licentious behaviour of Toronto’s elite, its revelation of moral hypocrisy, and its exposure of the means by which aristocratic and church power provides succour to egregious duplicity.
Its social criticism and dark humour were too much for Canadian readers at the time. It is, however, exactly the kind of book contemporary Canadian readers, writers, and scholars hope lies buried in the archives waiting to be recovered. A gem of insight, innovation, and novelty: finally, here is a new edition of one of the rarest, wildest books of the twentieth century.
Published in English