Quebec Studies, No. 19, 1995
DORION, GILLES, et al., eds. Dictionnaire des oeuvres litte'raires du
Qukbec. Tome V1, 1976-1980.Montreal: Fides, 1994. Pp. 1087.
In the late seventies, it was sometimes suggested that literary productivity in Quebec
was in decline because writers had become so involved in politics. This sixth volume of the
highly acclaimed Dictionnaire des oeuvres littkaires du Q d b e c (the first not under the direction of
Maurice Lemire) should lay that erroneous assessment to rest. The volume, which covers the five
years that began with the E'Q's electoral victory and ended with the referendum o n sovereignty,
testifies to the high level of literary activity of the period. Some of the great names in Quebec literature published during these years, including Michel Beaulieu ( 15 titles!), Victor-Levy
Beaulieu. Claude Beausoleil, Louky Bersianik, Gerard Bessette, Nicole Brossard, Roch Carrier,
Paul Chamberland, Francois C h a r r o n , Rejean Ducharme, Michel Garneau, Jean-Claude
Germain, Anne H6bert, Claude Jasmin, Michele b l o n d e , Paul-Marie Lapointe, Gilbert Laroque,
Louise Maheux-Forcier, A n t o n i n e Maillet, France T h e o r e t , Yves Thkriault. and Michel
Tremblay, to name but the better known writers who published multiple titles during this period.
Some genres, such as the short story, saw phenomenal growth (more than sixty collections were
published in five years), and an impressive number of literary magazines and journals were
founded, among them Possibles, leu, Lettres Qdbecoises, and Spiraks.
The introduction to the volume ably sketches the major traits of the years covered.
Attention is given to the continued importance of women writers, the rise of feminist criticism
and particularly feminist theater, as well as to the continued significance of political, i.e. nationalist, themes. T h e role of innovative narrative techniques and the growth of science fiction,
whose first significant works appeared during this period, are equally noted.
T h e editors' definition of "oeuvres litteraires" has narrowed since the first volume,
which included virtually everything that made it into book form up to 1900, even travel accounts
and works of piety, which have been gradually excluded, along with scientific works and govemment publications. While also showing a greater selectivity in the number of creative works they
review, the editors of volume six remain generous in their inclusivity, discussing even unpublished texts, such as the immensely successful comedy, Brow, which receives one of the longest
entries. They also include literary, film, and art criticism, film scenarios, collections of songs, biographies, autobiographies, folklore, dictionaries, and works in the social sciences. In all, over
1,OOO works are analyzed. The bibliography at the end of the volume presents an exhaustive list
of the entire literary production of the period.
As is the custom in these volumes, each entry is followed by a n extensive bibliography,
listing virtually all the reviews of the work under discussion. These include criticism appearing in
American publications such as The French Review, Quebec Studies, and The American Review of
CaMdian Studies, but not those in World Literature Today, nor in the Canadian book trade magazine, QtuU Gt &re.
With this volume, topical entries are introduced to cover important literary phenomena that are not treatable under single title entries. This enables the editors to give a fuller representation of such areas as theatrical activity. Individual plays are discussed in separate articles,
but there are also entries under "Creation collective," "Theatre d'etk," "Theatre d'improvisation,"
and "Theatre experimental." Similarly, while individual film scenarios are analyzed, there is also
e n entry under "Cinkma quebecois e t litterature (1976-1980)," an incisive survey of film production, especially as it relates to culture generally and to literature specifically.
T h e editors used the services of some 350 collaborators, mostly from Quebec. but including a number from other Canadian provinces, the United States, England, Ireland, France,
Belgium, Italy, and Germany. Given the dimensions of the enterprise, some unevenness in analysis is to be expected, but the over-all quality of the articles is remarkably high.
Superbly printed and bound, this volume belongs in every college and university library as well as in the personal libraries of Quebec specialists.
University of Illinois, Urbana
Emile J. Talbot