Literature and Cultural Studies
TREMBLAY, ROSELINE. L'Ã‰crivain imaginaire: Essai sur le roman
quÃ©bÃ©cois, 1960-1995. MontrÃ©al: Hurtubise, 2004. Pp. 600
In this comprehensive study, Roseline Tremblay takes into account the inÂ
creasing number of QuÃ©bÃ©cois 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 QuÃ©Â
bÃ©cois literary traditions and cites AndrÃ© 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 exÂ
amine the cultural and literary discourses surrounding the role of
intellectuals and artists in ways specific to Quebec. She is particularly interÂ
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 HervÃ© Jodoin in GÃ©rard Bessette's Le Libraire,
Antoine Plamondon in AndrÃ© Major's Le Cabochon, and Mathieu LeliÃ¨vre in
Marie-Claire Blais's Une liaison parisienne. As Tremblay demonstrates, these
hesitant, introspective, characters seem incapable of breaking with an unÂ
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 QueÂ
bec for exploits in a geographical "ailleurs."
tin Joualonais sa Joualonie, by Marie-Claire Biais, Don Quichotte de la
DÃ©manche, by Victor-LÃ©vy Beaulieu, and Le Petit Aigle Ã tÃªte 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 sucÂ
cessful "Porte-parole," Jean-Marc, who appears in several works by Michel
In the 1980s, significant numbers of women novelists began porÂ
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, RÃ©gine Robin's La