Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2004), 37, (1), 127–139.

Abstract

127 Book Reviews Literature and Cultural Studies TREMBLAY, ROSELINE. L'Écrivain imaginaire: Essai sur le roman québécois, 1960-1995. Montréal: Hurtubise, 2004. Pp. 600 In this comprehensive study, Roseline Tremblay takes into account the in­ creasing number of Québécois authors who portray writers as protagonists in their novels. Her unique approach sheds new light on this phenomenon, which has attracted the attention of literary critics in recent years. Tremblay takes care to establish a solid historical context for her study. She refers to nineteenth and twentieth century European and Qué­ bécois literary traditions and cites André Belleau's sociocritical study of novels in Quebec from 1940-1960. Tremblay proposes to develop a sociogram based on the concept developed by Claude Duchet, in order to ex­ amine the cultural and literary discourses surrounding the role of intellectuals and artists in ways specific to Quebec. She is particularly inter­ ested in exploring correlations between actual historical events and various depictions of fictional writers. Tremblay identifies 158 novels published in Quebec between 1960 and 1995 that feature authors as protagonists. Of these, she selects twentyfour examples and organizes them into five categories. In the main section of her essay, she examines specific works in each category, beginning with "le Perdant," epitomized by Hervé Jodoin in Gérard Bessette's Le Libraire, Antoine Plamondon in André Major's Le Cabochon, and Mathieu Lelièvre in Marie-Claire Blais's Une liaison parisienne. As Tremblay demonstrates, these hesitant, introspective, characters seem incapable of breaking with an un­ comfortable past. A more dynamic type, "l'Aventurier," appears in Prochain episode, by Hubert Aquin, D'Amour, P. Q., by Jacques Godbout, Le Double Suspect, by Madeleine Monette, and Vorwagen Blues, by Jacques Poulin. The authorprotagonists of these works, which Tremblay perceives as distinctly "American" in the sense that they involve a great deal of action, leave Que­ bec for exploits in a geographical "ailleurs." tin Joualonais sa Joualonie, by Marie-Claire Biais, Don Quichotte de la Démanche, by Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, and Le Petit Aigle à tête blanche, by Robert Lalonde each portray an author who acts as "le Porte-parole," either by choice or reluctantly, for a collectivity. Tremblay observes that these characters often feel torn between their artistic expression and their role as social representatives. A special section is devoted to a particularly suc­ cessful "Porte-parole," Jean-Marc, who appears in several works by Michel Tremblay. In the 1980s, significant numbers of women novelists began por­ traying writers as characters categorized under the heading "l'Iconoclaste," because of their obsession with truth and assertion of individuality. Tremblay includes Yolande Villemaire's La Vie en prose, Régine Robin's La

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