Scott Symons' previous books include the novels Place d'Armes: A Combat Journal (1967) and Helmet of Flesh (1986). In 1970 he published Heritage: A Romantic Look at Early Canadian Furniture. He was a professor at the University of Toronto, a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, and a visiting curator at Winterthur and the Smithsonian. He has lived most of his recent life in Morocco, and currently lives in Toronto.
Combat Journal for Place d’Armes
Originally published in 1967, Combat Journal for Place d’Armes, set in Montreal, was initially met with shock and anger by most reviewers. As D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover once had, it challenged the attitudes and morals held by most people in its time regarding life and literature. Despite this initial reaction, the novel earned author Scott Symons the Beta Sigma Phi Best First Canadian Novel Award and went on to be regarded as one of the "most important statements about Canadian imaginative life in the 1960s."
Both a study of the emergence of a character’s true self through his homosexual experiences and his critical examination of Canadian, and especially French-Canadian, culture and traditions, Place d’Armes was named one of the top hundred most important books in Canadian history. Peter Buitenhuis, the late autho ran dformer head of Simon Fraser University’s English department, has written that Symon’s novel is "a defiant assault on the Canadian Bourgeois mentality" that "celebrates human sexuality and spirtuality with all the gusto that language can command."
Symons's novel, published hard on the heels of his scandalous coming-out as a gay man in 1967, when he left his wife and son to live with his teenaged lover, is a celebration of the sexuality of life. But it is also an insightful analysis of Canadian and especially French Canadian culture and traditions. A book much condemned and much praised.
Christopher Elson is the vice-president of the University of King's College in Halifax and also serves as an associate professor of French and Canadian studies in the King's-Dalhousie Joint Faculty. He is the editor of the book Dear Reader: Selected Scott Symons.