Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2000), 30, (1), 110–126.

Abstract

110 Book Reviews Literature and Cultural Studies JOUBERT, LUCIE. Trajectoires au féminin dans la littérature québécoise (1960-1990). Québec: Éditions Nota bene, 2000. Pp. 286. Trajectoires au féminin brings together fifteen essays on Quebec women writing between 1960 and 1990, supplemented by two brief literary texts. In addition to new readings of classics like Gabrielle Roy and Marie-Claire Biais, the essays often single out for attention writers who have long been marginalized, even by feminist criticism, such as Madeleine Ferron, Andrée Maillet, and Monique Bosco. Other contributors take the time to examine an entire corpus—women's participation in the genre of the fantastic, for example, or women's novelistic production in the 1960s. In some cases, these studies move beyond the usual textual analysis to look at the institutionalization of women's writing, its posi­ tion in the world of publishing and theatrical production. As varied as the essays are, in subject matter and critical approach, all offer answers to a single question, as stated by editor Lucie Joubert: "How has femi­ nism influenced (or failed to influence) the work of our women authors during these years [1960-1990]?" (7). The definition of "feminism" is left open and is interpreted by the contributors in various ways, from the feminist art criticism of the 1970s to feminist psychoanalytic theory. For the most part, however, "feminism" is defined, explicitly or implicitly, by the important theory and prac­ tice of Quebec writers of the 1970s like Nicole Brossard, France Théoret, Louky Bersianik, who are often associated with l'écriture au féminin, a term Joubert's preface opens to far wider application. Since these writers, more than anyone else in Quebec, have defined the feminism whose influence is most under dis­ cussion, they are conspicuous by their absence from the collection. The answers to the question are as varied as the writers chosen for study, but several essays on texts written by women in 1990, at the very end of the des­ ignated period, point to their radically diminished emphasis on the collective dimensions of feminism. Katherine Roberts finds an extreme individualism and an absence of feminist reflection in Francine Noel's 1990 novel of multiculturalism, Babel, prise deux (a rather surprising conclusion about a writer whose pre­ vious work openly showcases feminist ideas), while Louise Dupré observes that, since the 1980s, women's poetry has progressively taken its distance from the collective nous to focus on the individual. Like Dupré, however, Kathleen Kellett-Betsos finds a continued metatextual exploration of writing in women's texts of 1990, in this case, Anne Dandurand's Un coeur qui craque. While more recent writers thus seem to have moved away from the pro­ nounced gender-marking seen in the 1970s and 1980s, other essays discover clear traces of feminism—a feminism avant la lettre—in the work of women in the 1960s. Lori Saint-Martin carefully traces Gabrielle Roy's discovery of the woman as artist in her autobiographical stories published in 1966, after years of inability to imagine the serious artist as other than a man. Saint-Martin points out that, in her continuing revalorization of such traditional feminine activities as story-telling, needlework, and gardening, Roy was working out the re-vision of women's art that would become central to feminists of the 1970s, like Judy

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