Quebec Studies

Editor's Note

Quebec Studies (1999), 27, (1), 1–2.


1 Editor's Note Mikhail Bakhtin's writing on the carnivalesque has long proven suggestive to scholars of Quebec literature, and this issue of Quebec Studies begins with two essays that demonstrate how original and productive deployments of it are far from being exhausted. Susan Kevra's contribution combines a broad anthropological consideration of the "life-cycle" of food in human societies with an astute and spirited reading of Rodolphe Girard's Marie Calumet, arguably one of the most transgressive novels ever written in Quebec. If Girard's novel constitutes an attack on the obscurantist monopoly of knowledge in an agrarian, clericalist society, it is through Kevra's emphasis on food that we see how the ribald, scatological elements of the novel continue to figure the body as an object of shame and betrayal, a situation to be remedied through the disciplining of its main female characters. Conversely, Mounia Benalil's study of the strategies of the carnivalesque in two novels by Gérard Etienne argues for the effectiveness of such literary strategies within a broader context of social and political contestation. Here, the carnivalesque interventions are designed to expose and subvert the vestiges of feudal and colonialist approaches to the representation of women in Haitian writing long after the achievement of national independence, whether at home or in the works of exiled writers. The (re)habilitation of woman as a subject of historical discourse enabled by these carnivalesque strategies is a necessary precondition to the solidification of a truly democratic political practice in post-Duvalier Haiti, Benalil argues. In our second dossier, recent theoretical approaches that address the conventions of autobiographical and autofictional writing enable Cecilia Wiktorowicz to argue that the social realism for which Gabrielle Roy is universally celebrated in fact represents an anomalous aspect of her work. By reading shorter, lesser-known works by Roy written immediately before and after the publication of Bonheur d'occasion, Wiktorowicz postulates a lifelong concern with issues of narratorial perception and its relation to the creative process itself, a concern that belies the "objectivist" position that Roy occupies in the received version of Quebec literary history. In fact, Roy here becomes a forerunner not so much of mid-century realism as of late century concerns with the relations between fiction and (self)-representation. These concerns are central, as well, to Pascale DeSouza's account of the phenomenal success enjoyed by Dany Laferrière's novel, Comment faire l'amour avec un Nègre sans se fatiguer. DeSouza demonstrates that through the deployment of narrative strategies of mimesis and the abundant production of les effets du réel, the potentially troubling questions raised by the presence of an exiled Haitian writer in Quebec are "domesticated" through a canny, sympathetic enlistment of an ideal local reader. In Laferrière, she suggests, it is the paradoxical masking of questions of self-representation through a narrative that appears so convincingly "autofictional" that puts the reader at ease. Sébastien Joachim's study of Gilles Hénault's Signaux pour les voyants marks the first occasion upon which the work of this important poet has been considered in the pages of our journal. With its urgent invocation of breaking silence, of liberating the stifled voice in the form of the CRI, Hénault's poetry is centrally engaged with a principal topic of the Quiet Revolution. This engagement with the world is figured as an erotic one, a carnal poetics of progressive and creative possession that is given flesh and blood, as it were, through the rep-

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Author details

Schwartzwald, Robert