Quebec Studies

Language as Masque: Les Faux Brillants of Jean-Claude Germain

Quebec Studies (1983), 1, (1), 178–190.

Abstract

Language as Masque: Les Faux Brillants of Jean-Claude Germain Carol F. Coates 1 When Les Faux Brillants . . . premiered at the ThkQtre d’Aujourd’hui, on March 24, 1977, the critics found it clever and amusing. There was, however, an undercurrent of curiosity about Jean-Claude Germain’s reasons for diverting his attention from a vigorous series of original creations. Was he actually trying to “redonner la mkmoire aux Qu6bkcois”2 by reviving a forgotten play of the nineteenth-century prime minister, FClixGabriel Marchand, or to prove that there was an indigenous Quebec theater long before Les Belles S o e u ~ s ? Adrien ~ Gruslin expressed most critically the view that Germain had fallen into a sterile period: De Ma Com’veau aux Faux Brillants, en passant par la reprise de U n Pays dont la devise est je m’oublie ct un arrangement de textes de Sauvageau . . . , on assiste be1 et bien i une dramaturgie de recriation et non de criation rigi in ale.^ I t is true that Germain himself provokes confusion in various ways-ultimately, I suspect, in order to spur active reflection on the part of the spectator. The title suggests that Germain is simply presenting an adaptation of Marchand’s play: Les Faux Brillants d e Fklix-Gabriel Marchand, paraphrase. In the Prologue, with which Germain’s play opens, the fictional nineteenth-century actors address an encomium to Marchand, who replies from a seat in the midst of the actual, twentieth-century spectators. Germain also retains all the main characters and the essential plot elements from Marchand’s play. Besides flaunting all these indices of “paraphrase,” Germain

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Coates, Carol