Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2013), 55, (1), 151–160.

Abstract

151 Book Reviews Edited by Patrice J. Proulx History, Culture, and Politics DE FINNEY, JAMES, HÉLÈNE DESTREMPES, et JEAN MORENCY, éds. L'Acadie des origines. Sudbury: Prise de parole, 2011. Pp.170. ISBN 9782894232552. HODSON, CHRISTOPHER. The Acadian Diaspora: An EighteenthCentury History. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Pp. 260. ISBN 9780199739776. We are still trying to unravel the elusive Acadian past, and even more importantly, to understand who the Acadians have become today. Writers have addressed various facets of this question from very early times, but many of them, even those with the best of intentions, often tended toward convenient stereotypes and exaggerated images which had very little to do with la réalité acadienne. We understand today that Acadians form the heart and soul of a fascinating past, one defined in part by the complex set of challenges that they had to overcome from the time they first arrived as set­ tlers over 400 years ago. A lesser people would not have survived, but somehow the Acadians endured, refusing to be relegated to a poignant footnote in a revised History of the World. They not only survived, they grew and evolved, often exploiting a new avenue, unforeseen and perverse, one that they rarely chose or controlled themselves. In the end, they per­ sisted and adapted unselfconsciously, purveyors of a new and transformed Acadian identity, one that continues to grow in the twenty-first century. These two very different books are welcome and timely additions to the literature which will allow us to push the envelope just a little further on this issue. Ironically, this reviewer really only discovered the world of Acadians in the 1970s, while at graduate school in Orono, Maine — a state with 15% of its population boasting Acadian roots and another 15% hailing originally from Québec. Since that time, and in spite of having served as Délégué du Québec en Louisiane, participating in academic exchanges with Acadians, maintaining close contact with the Cajun community for over thirty years, and even sharing a conjugal roof with an Acadienne for dec­ ades, I find that Acadian reality remains a challenge to define. The arrival of these review books was exciting, perhaps a chance to open new doors, to confirm that there continues to be a dynamic and vibrant francophone life outside of Québec. L'Acadie des origines is the brainchild of three professors at the Univer­ sity of Moncton, who have edited this great little book of essays. In ten short and pithy chapters, the authors have addressed a number of the most important themes affecting Acadians, both today and in the past. The re­ sult is a much clearer understanding of the many mythical forces that con-

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Proulx, Patrice