The Master of the Mill

The Master of the Mill, a novel by Frederick Philip Grove (Toronto, 1946; repr 1961), has been criticized for being too technically demanding, with its frequently shifting time frame and points of view, and its complicated subplots.

The Master of the Mill, a novel by Frederick Philip Grove (Toronto, 1946; repr 1961), has been criticized for being too technically demanding, with its frequently shifting time frame and points of view, and its complicated subplots. In spite of these drawbacks, the novel is a painstakingly researched, prophetic attempt to trace the effects of industrial mechanization on individuals, societies and civilization. Set in northwestern Ontario in 1938, Grove's ambitious book focuses on the conflicts between the 4 generations of the Clark family, owners of a flour mill. The story is primarily told through the recollections of Senator Samuel Clark, the elderly humanitarian hero of the novel who, before he dies, longs to explain and justify his responsibility and guilt in the creation of the colossal empire which has turned both his father and his son into false masters, slaves of the mill. But Grove's nightmarish, bleak vision of a sterile, automated society which ultimately robs humans of dignity, purpose and joy, is tempered at the end, as he affirms his conviction in the collective capacity of the human mind to triumph.


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