McLuhan’s mentor at the University of Manitoba, Rupert Lodge, published two essays in The Dalhousie Review in 1934 and 1936:
Philosophy and Education, Dalhousie Review, 14:3, 1934, 281-290
Plato’s Secret, Dalhousie Review, 16:1, 1936, 36-40
McLuhan was working closely with Lodge when the first of these was published. And from courses with Lodge, he knew more than enough about Lodge’s Platonism to criticize it in letters home from Cambridge.1
Lodge must have established some kind of connection with the Dalhousie Review editor, Herbert Leslie Stewart, in the early 1930s.2 Perhaps they met or re-met at a conference or learned in some other way of a common interest in philosophy and education (to judge from Lodge’s first paper in the Review).3 Since Lodge was encouraging McLuhan to publish in philosophy at the time (perhaps hoping to turn him from literature), he may well have recommended McLuhan to Stewart for a submission. If so, it may be that McLuhan came to publish in Dalhousie Review not through Gerald Phelan, as previously conjectured4, but through Lodge.
The choice of an essay on Chesterton would, however, hardly fit with Lodge’s philosophical interests or with the idea of promoting a possible career in philosophy for McLuhan. It is not impossible, therefore, that the Dalhousie Review connection came about in some fashion through Lodge and Phelan. At a guess, if McLuhan first came to Stewart’s attention though Lodge, and if McLuhan then proposed a paper on Chesterton, Stewart may well have turned to his old Halifax friend, Fr PheIan, for input on the notion. Phelan’s interest and expertise in Chesterton was well known. In this case, the profound influence Phelan came to exercise on McLuhan’s life (encouraging his study of Phelan’s Toronto colleagues Maritain and Gilson, guiding his conversion, obtaining his first full-time teaching position at SLU, bringing him back to Canada to teach with the Basilians at Windsor and, finally, securing his position in Toronto at St Mike’s) may in some small part have originated through McLuhan’s old Winnipeg connection with Rupert Clendon Lodge.
- “Lodge is a decided Platonist and I learned (to think) that way as long as I was trying to interpret Christianity in terms of comparative religion. Having perceived the sterility of that process, I now realize that Aristotle is the soundest basis for Xian doctrine” (McLuhan to his family, February 1935, Letters 53). ↩
- It turns out that both Lodge and Stewart began their North American teaching careers at the same place, Dalhousie, in the same year, 1913! As recorded in the Dalhousie Gazette from November 1913 (p 44), Stewart’s mother took ill just when he was to take up his Dalhousie appointment, with the result that he could not teach his first term there in the fall of 1913. Lodge filled in for him. So they certainly knew of each other from that time and in all probability met personally when Stewart finally arrived to take up his duties. For a picture and biographical information for Lodge see his entry in The Database of Classical Scholars. ↩
- Lodge enlarged his DR paper into a book on Philosophy of Education in 1937 (revised edition 1947); cf, also Plato’s Theory of Education, 1947, reprint 2000. ↩
- For discussion see McLuhan and Father Gerald Phelan 1934-1936. ↩