Book Reviews: History
TROFIMENKOFF, SUSAN MANN. The Dream of Nation-.
A Social and Intellectual History of Quebec. Toronto: Gage,
Hailed by its publisher as "the first one volume synthesis
of Quebec's history written in English"â€”which it is not, since
my The French Canadians appeared in that format in 1955â€”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 quesÂ
tion, "What does QuÃ©bec want?"
The author's emphasis on the feminist history of QuÃ©bec
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 emphaÂ
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 outÂ
side the home was a late development, as the author indicates,
but within that narrow kingdom la crÃ©ature 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