Know It All
Finding the Impossible Country
In Know It All: Finding the Impossible Country James Marsh tells of his evolution from a troubled childhood to a long career in Canadian publishing that culminated in the creation of The Canadian Encyclopedia — what one reviewer called “the intellectual equivalent of the building of the CPR.” Through friendships, curiosity, the insights of a charismatic psychiatrist, his passion for books, and the intimate encounters with the authors he met, he championed a diverse and inclusive view of Canada, which was used to draw the great minds of an impossible nation together in a common national enterprise. While exploring how memory works and how we learn to think of ourselves, Know It All offers insights into the intricacies of Canadian identity, the profession of book editors, and is the most comprehensive first-hand story about the creation of The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Praise for The Canadian Encyclopedia
James Marsh bravely held up a mirror to his culture. The Canadian Encyclopedia is a monument to the integrative power of culture, the myth of a fragile land. — The Canadian Historical Review
In Books in Canada, author and critic George Galt focused on how the encyclopedia reflected the efflorescence in the arts over the past 30 years. “I am left with the sense,” he wrote, “that a vast and variegated land has met its match in print.”
Playwright and poet James Reaney stretched for a metaphor in Saturday Night comparing TCE to Anne of Green Gables and “Alouette,” “in a very exciting way, a new communications satellite.” With special music to my ears after my studies of L’Encyclopédie,
John Hutcheson wrote in The Canadian Forum, “Diderot’s Encyclopédie put the ideas of the Enlightenment on the map. James Marsh’s The Canadian Encyclopedia will do the same for Canadian studies.”