Quebec Studies

Book Reviews

Quebec Studies (2015), 60, (1), 153–168.


Book Reviews Edited by Amy J. Ransom Book Reviews Literary Studies SMART, PATRICIA. De Marie de l’Incarnation à Nelly Arcan: Se dire, se faire par l’écriture intime. Montréal: Boréal, 2014. Pp. 430. ISBN 978-2-7646-2345-9. If the title De Marie de l’Incarnation à Nelly Arcan signposts the breadth of this book, which focuses on autobiographies penned by Québec women from 1654 to 2011, its subtitle, Se dire, se faire par l’écriture intime, suggests the depth and complexity of this fascinating analysis. As Smart explains, a book devoted to Québec women’s autobiographies, if narrowly defined, would have been very limited; there were few veritable autobiographers hence the need to refocus the lens in order to discern the autobiographical qualities in writing that usually falls outside the category. How else to discover the links between, for example, the spiritual diaries of Marie de l’Incarnation, Claire Martin’s seething condemnation and revelation of a girl`s life during “la grande noirceur,” and Nelly Arcan’s haunting autobiographical fiction in which she portrays living with, through, and by the female body? As the subtitle suggests, Québec women, while not penning conventional autobiographies, nonetheless expressed, shaped, transformed, and unmasked themselves through private and personal writing in literary forms as varied as diaries, memoirs, letters, and autobiographical fiction that enhance our understanding of their social and historical reality. Divided into four sections, the book covers the mystical, spiritual writings of the female founders of Québec, the private correspondence of influential women in Québec society (1748–1862), the personal diaries of women searching for their social role (1843–1964), and the autobiographies, including autobiographical fiction, of the Quiet Québec Studies, 60 doi:10.3828/qs.2015.21

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