Quebec Studies

Editor's Note

Quebec Studies (2000), 30, (1), 1–2.


1 Editor's Note This thirtieth issue of Québec Studies opens with a provocative dossier on men's writing in Quebec. As Lori Saint-Martin and Katherine Roberts, who proposed and prepared this special section, explain in more detail in their own presenta­ tion, the study of masculinity—its images and cultural connotations—in Quebec literature involves not only the kind of reconsideration of gender roles now going on in North America generally. It also leads, as do many cultural phe­ nomena in Quebec, to a closer look at the forms taken by "national" self-defini­ tion, not just in cultural, but in political terms. Power and potency have, of course, long been used as metaphors for each other. In the modern era, however, the linkages between national and sexual ideologies, especially for those situ­ ating themselves within a discourse of decolonization and nation-building, are complex and multivalent, and Quebec is no exception. Does feminist skepticism (shared by some male writers themselves) about the heroic masculinist rhetoric of nation-building in the years of the Quiet Revolution lead necessarily to broader skepticism about Quebec nationalism itself? The contributors to this issue leave the issue open, but place the question itself squarely on the table. In future issues, I hope to develop the perspectives opened up by this dossier with a more general discussion of whether, or to what extent, insight into Quebec cul­ ture may be gained by adopting the tools of "postcolonial" theory. Earl Fry looks at nation-building from another point of view in his study of Quebec's offices abroad. What purposes do they serve, and are the results in line with expectations? The resources devoted to the various Délégations and other forms of international representation are very considerable—many American readers will be surprised at the way they compare with the money spent by US states—and it is clear that for Quebec the economic and cultural, as well as political stakes are considerable. Fry's essay is, if I am not mistaken, the first systematic assessment yet undertaken of this key aspect of Quebec govern­ ment policy. Two pairs of essays on literature and culture round out the issue. Kathleen Rochefort Murray and Juliette M. Rogers offer complementary perspectives on women's relationship to reading and writing in traditional Quebec. Murray pre­ sents a fascinating study of the images of Sainte Anne, showing how the link between this saint and the idea of literacy is peculiar to Quebec, and speculating on the historical reasons for the emergence of this pattern of images in the late nineteenth century. Rogers studies the little-known epistolary novel Canadiennes d'hier, which presents an intriguing contrast to more famous fictions of some­ what similar type, notably Angéline de Montbrun, in its more overt assertion of female autonomy and disenchanted view of provincial life—both linked to opportunities for the unfettered experience of writing. Memory is perhaps the key word today in reflections about history and historical writing, as seen for example in Paul Ricoeur's recent massive study, La Mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli. In Quebec, whose motto is "Je me souviens," it is fair to say that memory has never been forgotten—and that this has not always been a good thing! The last two articles show the emergence of a more complex dialectic of memory and forgetting in recent fiction. Paul Raymond Côté and Constantina Mitchell analyze Daniel Poliquin's L'Homme de paille, the first fully realized "historiographical metafiction," to use Linda Hutcheon's term, to deal

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