Quebec Studies

Book Reviews: History

Quebec Studies (1985), 3, (1), 226–239.


Book Reviews: History TROFIMENKOFF, SUSAN MANN. The Dream of Nation-. A Social and Intellectual History of Quebec. Toronto: Gage, 1983. Hailed by its publisher as "the first one volume synthesis of Quebec's history written in English"—which it is not, since my The French Canadians appeared in that format in 1955—this lively and penetrating account of Quebec's evolution covers the subject from the beginnings to the referendum of May 1980. It draws effectively upon the considerable corpus of recent social, labor, urban, and women's historical research, even to the possible neglect of political history. Since the author agrees that politics is Quebec's national sport, this will not please all readers trying to answer the eternal English-Canadian ques­ tion, "What does Québec want?" The author's emphasis on the feminist history of Québec is extremely stimulating in the final two chapters, and the importance which she attaches to it is evident in the title of the last, "Feminism, Federalism, and the Independence of Quebec." This is fresh and heady stuff, if perhaps somewhat overly trendy, but it is surprising that the feminist theme is somewhat neglected earlier. I would have expected more empha­ sis on the fact that the education of women was always longer and better than that of men, whose muscles were needed on the farm and in the factory. The employment of women out­ side the home was a late development, as the author indicates, but within that narrow kingdom la créature ruled to a far greater extent than a male-oriented society has been willing to admit. The author singles out the feminine pioneers who broke the barriers which long barred them from political and professional life. But I was disappointed in not finding more about the enormous influence of the women's religious orders, including some speculation on women's part in the rapid rise of ultramontanism in the nineteenth century, particularly after Bishop

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