SAINT-MARTIN, LORI. Contre-voix: Essais de critique au fÃ©minin.
Quebec: Nuit Blanche Ã‰diteur, 1997. Pp. 295.
Lori Saint-Martin's analysis in Contre-voix: Essais de critique au fÃ©minin, a collection of thirteen essays, concentrates on the multiplicity and complexity of voices
"au fÃ©minin," as well as on their silencing. While the essays in the collection may
at times seem tenuously linked, the range of voices heard deregulates the normalizing tyrannies of the literary canon and of feminism. She likens her project
to musical counterpoint, a combination of melodies arranged so as to emphasize
or clarify "au fÃ©minin." Contre-voix is an ambitious work that does not fall short
of its stated goal "de ne pas consentir" (10) and to "dÃ©masculiniser" reading (9).
The essays in Contre-voix are separated into three sections and are preceded
by a thorough and concise introduction. In Part I, Saint-Martin focuses on "Ã©criture au fÃ©minin." She asks how feminism is to move forward and adapt if the
converted are the only ones being spoken to and when outsiders cannot hear the
plurality of voices and see the number of disciplines involved. Feminists should
not be unwilling to critique each other for fear of weakening Feminism. As she
says, feminism does not offer one united voice, but many within and across disciplines. Chapter 3 focuses on Luce Irigaray's Sexes ei genres Ã travers les langues,
an empirical study of how men and women use language differently. SaintMartin questions the female-centered bias written into the work's methodology,
as well as the selection and interpretation of the test results.
In Part II, Saint-Martin analyzes men's control over women, both textually
and socially. In chapter 4, she dissects the mother stereotype in the texts of
Charles-Joseph Magnon, Mgr Louis-Adolphe Paquet, Albert Tessier, and Henri
Bourassa by looking at their rhetorical strategies, for example the use of the
"prÃ©sent Ã©ternel" to create a sense of universal truth regarding the "mÃ¨re
mythique." In Chapter 5, Saint-Martin examines the textual violence against
women in select works of Godbout, Aquin, and Beaulieu as metaphor for the liberation of man. Chapter 6 addresses issues surrounding reproductive science.
New technology allows many more women to have children, but at a cost, physical, emotional and financial. Saint-Martin argues that the script (medical and
social) is written by men and the power of reproduction has been transferred to
the hands of men. If women are to regain control, women's infertility issues
should be researched more thoroughly.
Part III concentrates on texts written by women. She begins with Louky
Bersianik's EuguÃ©lionne, positing that parody cannot empower women with an
independent voice, since the farce depends too heavily on the male model.
Nicole Brossard and Daphne Marlatt and their interest in the writing process are
compared in the following chapter. In chapters 9 and 10, Saint-Martin considers
the reclaiming of two female stereotypes, the witch and the prostitute, by various authors. Chapter 11 explores different attempts at the creation of a maternal
language. Then Saint-Martin questions whether a city, such as Montreal, is gendered through its representation in literature. In her final chapter, she looks at
three recent "metafeminist texts," Les Images by Louise Bouchard, Le Sexe des