A collection of essays by Northrop Frye, written between 1943 and 1969, published in 1971, on Canadian literature and painting. The collection includes the ten long poetry reviews Frye wrote in the University of Toronto Quarterly from 1950 to 1959, which chart a prolific and important period in the development of Canadian poetry. His critical approach to Canadian poetry is also apparent in two essays collected here, "The Narrative Tradition in English Canadian Poetry" (1946) and "Preface to An Uncollected Anthology" (1956).
The collection's final essay, Frye's conclusion to The Literary History of Canada (1965), represents his most complete formulation to this time of Canadian literary and cultural history. The piece, in four parts, outlines the historical, social, political, and economic factors that have shaped the "Canadian sensibility."
Frye's overview reiterates several elements of his vision of Canada which he had been developing for more than two decades, particularly the unique myths that seem to haunt the Canadian imagination, including the "garrison mentality" of a beleaguered society at odds with its hostile environment, the quest for a peaceable kingdom, and the imaginative difficulty of adapting a highly developed European verbal culture to a newly settled country. With its penetrating and patient judgements on individual writers, and its development of seminal attitudes to the function of the writer in a society emerging from colonialism, The Bush Garden helps to explain the influence Frye has wielded on both critics and writers.