Name: Hugh MacLennan, M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt., LL.D., F.R.S.C.
Convocation date: September 29, 1959
Special Convocation: Golden Jubilee Convocation
Discipline / contribution: literature
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor: In presenting Hugh MacLennan to you I am inhibited by the dictum of Dr. Samuel Johnson —— that an author’s best biography is his book. Since this is true, it seems irrelevant to introduce factual information about Mr. MacLennan’s external life. If we would know the real man we must turn to his books. To do so is an exciting experience. It is to acquaint ourselves with not only Mr. MacLennan but with the most significant body of prose fiction that has yet appeared in this country, and one that challenges comparison with the best of contemporary literature.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
It is possible that Mr. MacLennan’s fundamental humanism, and his talent for using proper words in proper places, are derived from the sound classical education he received at Oxford and Princeton, and from an enduring interest in English literature. Mr. MacLennan is a present Professor of English at McGill University. But the sources of those qualities of character and intellect which have made him a writer of international reputation must remain Mr. MacLennan’s secret: for example, the artistic integrity which compels him to drive his work the way he feels it ought to go, regardless of popular taste, and the strength of will which had enabled him to endure and to triumph over the hardships which are the common lot of artists the world over, but are more pronounced in this country than elsewhere.
It is surely a most happy coincidence that the University of Saskatchewan should choose to honour Mr. MacLennan on the occasion of its Golden Jubilee. We feel that after fifty years of steady development this university has at last come of age. It is equally true to say that in the work of Mr. MacLennan the literature of this country has, at long last, come of age too,
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate of the University, I ask that you confer on Hugh MacLennan the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: E.A. McCourt, professor of English
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