Event:  Fate and Freedom in the Novels of David Adams RichardsBy Sara MacDonald, Barry Craig

ABOUT”This book explores the understanding of freedom developed in the later novels of celebrated Canadian author, David Adams Richards. Many reviewers highlight two interconnected features in Richards novels: a seemingly rigid determinism of setting and sociodemographics, and a resulting hopelessness. In contrast, Richards describes the quest of human life and the purpose of his novels as a search for freedom. This book explores the account of freedom that is developed through the course of four of Richards”s works: The Friends of Meager Fortune, Mercy Among the Children, The Lost Highway, and Crimes Against My Brother. Following the Augustinian thread that informs Richards”s writing, we argue that rather than presenting an understanding of human life that is bleak or hopeless, Richards instead reveals an argument wherein one”s happiness and freedom is found in the midst of love.”

Sara MacDonald is professor in the Great Books Program at St. Thomas University Barry Craig is principal at Huron University College.


Dimensions: 190 Pages, 6 x 9 x 0.98 in

Published: 5/15/2017

Publisher: Lexington Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN – 10: 1498528708

ISBN – 13: 9781498528702

Philip Marchand’s National Post Review of Principles To Live By

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Philip Marchand | May 18, 2016

David Adams Richards offers Principles to Live By, namely, have some ‘common decency’

The man who lives without principles is a pitiable beast. The question is: what principles should we live by? Novelist David Adams Richards offers a simple solution, the quality known as “common decency.”

It may be simple but, like its sister notion, “common sense,” it may also be comparatively rare. Indeed part of the narrative thrust of Richards’s new novel, Principles To Live By, is its demonstration that living by the dictates of common decency – ordinary, garden variety, common decency – can result in high spiritual adventure.

see the entire review:

Philip Marchand’s National Post Review of Principles To Live By

Principles to Live By – David Adams Richards

On Wednesday, May 18th David will be reading from his latest novel Principles to Live By 
Date / Time:  Wednesday , May 18, 2016  7:00  p.m. – 8:15  p.m.
Library:  Fredericton Public Library
Library phone number:  (506) 460-2800
Audience:  Open to All
Language(s) in which the activity will be held:  English

Join David Adams Richards for a reading and launch of his newest work of fiction, Principles to Live by, at the library on May 18 at 7:00pm.

This is a free event and does not require advanced registration.


To purchase novel:

Principles to Live By

Introduction to the 2013 Cyril Byrne Memorial Lecture by Alexander MacLeod

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In March of 2013 at the Cyril Byrne Memorial Lecture at Saint Mary’s Universtiy, Professor and Author (Light Lifting 2010) Alex MacLeod introduced DAR to a massive crowd:

As anyone who has ever tried it will know, getting on a plane to fly between Halifax Nova Scotia and Fredericton or Saint John New Brunswick presents one of the more puzzling travelling experiences in North America. It’s not quite the Bermuda triangle, not yet, but there are definitely some mysterious forces at work here. The provinces touch each other and their histories are linked and the three cities have been working for, or more often against, each other for centuries, but something happens when you try to get on that plane. First, the flights are hard to find, and second, when you do get one, they charge you approximately 1.3 million dollars for the privilege of sitting on a bad Dash -8 for 45 minutes. We all understand the logic of the hub and the spoke, the metropolitan centre and the regional margin, and we can all appreciate the globalized economic arguments that proclaim that certain Maritime routes simply aren’t profitable anymore, but, I don’t know about you, but for me, there is a special frustration that kicks in when I stare at the computer screen and I learn that it’s cheaper and easier to go to all the way to Vancouver and back than it is to go to Fredericton. And then I try the train, and it is impossible, and runs almost only for tourists, and then I see the Acadian bus lines going bankrupt while direct, Direct (!), flights depart every day to Fort McMurray, and I feel I am being sent a message by the transportation infrastructure itself. It is saying to me, “You are welcome to leave here entirely and go to Toronto or Montreal or Calgary, and you can come back in the summer – when it is easy – but if you want to live here, really live here, and you want to move around inside of Atlantic Canada in March, then, my friend, you are just going have to do that by yourself.

This is all relevant information because if you ever think it might be a good idea to call up the greatest writer New Brunswick has ever produced and ask him if he’d like to come to Halifax to revisit his early work talk to a crowd of hundreds of people who all admire the courage and the integrity of his writing – people who have been reading him for four decades – if you ever think it might be a good idea to call up the greatest writer New Brunswick has ever produced and ask him if he’d like to come to Halifax to revisit his early work talk to a crowd of hundreds of people who all admire the courage and the integrity of his writing – people who have been reading him for four decades – if you think that’s a good idea and if you don’t have all the money in the world, then you are going to have to ask that artist –(sorry, you are going to have to tell David Adams Richards) – to “Fill it up with regular and make sure you got your snow tires. Grab a large black coffee at the Salisbury big stop and we’ll see you when we see you as long as you can get here under your own power.” If the greatest writer in the history of New Brunswick keeps his receipts, but only if he keeps his receipts, we may even refund the price of that large black coffee and give him something for the mileage. When I met David yesterday morning, I said, as we all say, “How was the drive?” And he said, as we all say, “The goddamn Cobequid Pass. It was so dark, I nearly went off the road on one side, and then I nearly went off the road on the other. I never saw it like that. When I got to the toll both, I said to the guy. ‘Miserable night isn’t it. Have you ever seen it so dark?’ And he looked at me with a bit of a weird expression on his face, and he said. ‘Oh I know what you mean sir, it’s always bad this time of year, but in your case, I think things would be easy and maybe you’d see everything a little better if you turned on your headlights.’

In ways, both literal and metaphorical, I think that late night drive on Wednesday leads us directly to tonight. And I think it’s appropriate to think of David Adams Richards, moving under his own power, and travelling across the unique geography and the specific challenges of the dark Maritime provinces, carving his way around and through the contours of this particular world, the place we all share. I like to think that he is always on that road, always on the way to meet his readers where they actually live. He has been travelling this way for my entire life and though the journey has not always been easy, there is no denying its value.

Now it is also true that some people, like the guy in the toll booth, might think that maybe, just maybe, the Richards dark is just a little bit darker than the one faced by all the other cars on the road, or darker than those clichéd glimpses of pastoral sunshine we get from so many other writers, but I wouldn’t ever agree with that sort reading. Whether we all want to admit it or not, we all live in, or at least dwell with, a condition of darkness, or some version of it – something serious that lives inside of every individual consciousness – and as has always been the case, since at least the time of the ancient Greeks all the way up to today’s Cormac McCarthy and so many others, we need artists who can see the dark clearly, can see the internal, maybe eternal night, but they aren’t afraid of it, and when the conditions are right, they can lead us right into it and maybe even through it and out the other side into a fragile kind of understanding and acceptance, into what David has memorably called the peace that evening snow can bring or the fragile hope that might be discovered and then protected when the desperate hour arrives. We know that some people read novels in order to escape from the world while others read in order to engage with it more deeply. Both choices are fine and both possibilities exist in any Richards story. No readers are conscripted to the task – unless they’re here in school and they have to hand in their papers by next Wednesday But it is simply and objectively true that nobody in the whole history of Atlantic Canada has produced a literary record like David Adams Richards and no individual has given over more of him or herself to a single literary project. I have always maintained that David Adams Richards has devoted his entire career and, in a very tangible way, a serious proportion of his life’s force to writing just 1 very large book, not the 26 we have now, or the 48 that we’ll have in another ten years, or the 76 that will make up his final total. We may move from the Coming of Winter all the way to last year’s Incidents in the life Markus Paul or even onto next year’s John Delano, but no matter where we land, no matter where we stop along the road, we are always contained inside the same imagination, and we are reliably returned, time and again, to the same abiding concern for the emotional and ethical integrity that every individual has to struggle for with their choices, and the same sympathetic, but clear-eyed cataloging of all the consequences, the sometimes joyful, sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic and sometimes brutal, consequences, that flow on from every one of those decisions.

Tonight we go back almost to the beginning, when David’s 1 big book was only a couple of hundred pages long, instead of a couple thousand, and we meet the MacDurmots – Mauffat and Irene and Leah and Cathy and Orville. They are a family bound together and sometimes torn apart by their powerful feelings for each other and the powerful feelings of other people who circulate around them. It is a relatively simple story – love doesn’t work the way we wished it would and the girls have to move away while the American draft dodging pottery artist buys the old homestead; it’s a story as relevant today, in 2013, when it so easy for me to leave and so hard for me to stay, as it was in 1976. But planted deep at its core, and woven seamlessly through its sentences, its paragraphs, its sophisticated William Faulkner /Anton Chekov narration, this book contains some of the finest writing ever produced by a Canadian artist and just think about it: the guy who wrote it was only 23 years old. We never asked David to read from this book – he chose it and I am so glad he did because this is a story you need to hear, something you need to really listen to as it travels through the air.

I feel lucky to be here tonight because stuff like this doesn’t happen every day. David Adams Richards is going back in time, down the old road, and, yes, it is true, sometimes he may drive without his lights on, but he will never ever leave you abandoned in the darkness.”

Former Arts Editor of the Dalhousie Gazette Andrew Mills wrote this of the lecture:


Professor Allen Bentley says of friend and former student…

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“The impression I always have of David – say between the time I meet him at St. Thomas University (where he offers me more wisdom than I ever teach him literature) and the cup of coffee I have at his house in Fredericton, shortly after he writes Crimes Against My Brother – is that I am in the presence of something Mythological, someone Promethean. The total body of his work so far only proves the metaphor. And there is more – much more – to come.

Like Prometheus he physically bears the mark of a wrathful god and is shackled to the Miramichi rock of his own transfiguring Imagination. But, more than that, like an Old Testament prophet, he is clearly burdened with the WORD crying in the wilderness and seeking to reconstitute and ennoble the complex humanity of a modern world. If Ivan Bastarache and Jerry Bines and Sydney Henderson and Elly and Marcus Paul and Amy Patch are not such voices, then where in Can. Lit. are they?

A Canadian Blake or a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky or a Faulkner David may well be, but what is not in contention is that someday the Nobel Prize will come to him or there is no justice in the annals of world literature. Only of someone who can turn hockey and hunting and human beings and salmon-fishing and all of nature into pure synesthesia can this be said. That he almost achieves the same thing with God (God Is) might be the final Word” Allen Bentley*

*As a professor of English at St. Thomas University for nearly 40 years, Bentley specialized in literary myth and symbolism. Now in retirement Al has been attempting to synthesize literary myth and symbolism, religion, the poetry and art of William Blake and dialectical philosophers like Plato and Hegel into a critical system that explores the modern status of our (mainly) Western culture.