Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2004), 38, (1), 104–112.

Abstract

104 Book Reviews Literature and Cultural Studies PATERSON, JANET M. Figures de l'autre dans le roman québécois. (Collection Littératures.) Québec: Éditions Nota bene, 2004. Pp. 238. ISBN 2-89518-161-6. In her incisive introduction to this timely and thought-provoking study, Paterson defines the point of departure and parameters of the analyses to follow through a series of fundamental questions: What strategies are operational in the creation of a discourse of "otherness"? What are the conceptual bases for perceptions of "otherness"? Is alterity a determinant and recurring factor in the Québécois novel? Who, in fact, is the "other" in the Québécois novel and how is alterity indicative of sociocultural change? Before reflecting on these and other related issues in conjunction with specific works, Paterson provides, in the preliminary chapter, the theoretical groundwork for her examination, stressing the relativity and volatility of all visions of alterity. "Otherness," she posits, generally presupposes the existence of a reference group, which confers semantic content to that which is perceived as different. Chapter two presents an examination of Philippe Aubert de Gaspé's Les anciens Canadiens. Paterson sees irony in the fact that the protagonist, of what is considered by many as the first noteworthy Québécois novel, is a foreigner — the Scotsman Archibald Cameron of Locheill. At once detested and revered as a hero, he is neither entirely akin to the novel's other characters nor completely dissimilar to them. His identity is one marked by profound ambiguity. According to Paterson, he is the prototype of such later anglophone characters as Stephen Peabody in André Langevin's L'Élan d'Amérique and Frank Archibald Campbell in Jacques Ferron's La Charrette. Chapter three is devoted to an exploration of marginality, as personified by the legendary protagonist of Germaine Guèvremont's Le Survenant. Building on notions put forth by Landowski, Kristeva, and Harel, Paterson shows that the dual reaction of fear and fascination with the figure of the stranger constitutes the underlying semantic thrust of Guèvremont's novel. It is his extraordinary ability to convey these two opposing attitudes that places Le Survenant in a key position regarding the evolution of the novel in Québec. In the fourth chapter, manifestations of the Other within the Self form the basis of a study of the characters George Nelson and Aurélie Caron in Anne Hébert's KamourasL·. After assessing the spatial and linguistic network that sets these characters apart from the norm, Paterson argues persuasively that they represent the societal and sexual freedom for which Elisabeth passionately yearns, and which is only attainable in a state of alterity. Hence, Elisabeth's deep-rooted desire to become the "other." In the context of Quebec's literary tradition, this "other," embedded as it is so strongly in the spirit of a feminine character, is replete with threatening, if

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