Canada Literature in French 3

Canada Literature in French Part 2

The diversity of language and religion of the two English and French groups and the proximity of the very influential American civilization, contribute to the persistence of two literatures, different not only in language, but in spirit and tendencies. They are joined by a new literature: the Indian one, which from the oral tradition has been recovering its cultural and literary heritage.


According to Fashionissupreme, the first manifestations of French-Canadian literature were collected by E. Gagnon (Les chansons populaires du Canada, 1865). British rule reinforced nationalistic sentiments. In the poem we must remember the comedy in verse Anglomanie by J. Quesnel (18th -19th century) and a patriotic current that, inspired by O. Crémazie, lasted throughout the 19th century. and had one of its most illustrious representatives, especially for the love of freedom, in L. Fréchette, author of the Légende d’un peuple (1887). The narrative prose draws on the history and customs of the people, from PJO Chaveau (Charles de Guérin, 1852) onwards. To remember Jean Rivard (1874) by A. Gérin Lajoie.

Substantially follower of the literary currents born in France from the romantic era onwards, only in the last decades of the 20th century. the French-language literature of Canada has acquired self-awareness, as littérature québécoise, a definition that reveals both the need to stand out in a predominantly Anglophone context and the need to free oneself from the hegemony of metropolitan French culture. The yearning for one’s own autonomy could already be grasped in the lines of Les îles de la nuit (1944) by A. Grandbois, and Le vierge incendié (1948) by P.-M. Lapointe and, even more, in the manifesto of the surrealist movement Refus global (1948), which had in the painter P.-L. Borduas and in the poets G. Gauvreau and Lapointe the greatest exponents. In the new socio-realist perspective, which highlights the drama of the urban integration of French Canadians in an Anglophone context, inaugurated by G. Roy in 1945 with Bonheur d’occasion, we should mention R. Lemelin, A. Langevin, J.- J. Richard. At the same time, the theatrical pieces are inspired by popular themes and stage characters typical of Québec.

The break with all forms of conservatism began in the 1950s, when the âge de la parole was inaugurated in poetry, in response to the ancient silence. On the literary scene the movement of the Hexagone, from the publishing house of the same name founded in 1953, which had in G. Miron its animator and among the most active members poets such as G. Hénault, R. Giguère, Lapointe, J. -G. Pilon, F. Ouellette, Y. Préfontaine, all engaged in the political awareness of national identity which asserted itself starting from the 1960s with the so-called quiet revolution. The poetry magazine Parti pris (1963-68), founded by P. Chamberland, reveals the literary commitment in the struggle for the independence of Québec, also with the attempt to recover the joual, the jargon of the oppressed and the rebel, spoken in the popular neighborhoods of Montréal. From the second half of the 1960s the literary question returned to being pre-eminent: avant-garde magazines gave space to new voices of poets such as J. Brault, G. Godin and emblematic were Brault’s Poèmes des quatre côtés (1975), where it seems possible the reconciliation between the two antagonistic languages. From the innovative ferment is born, with the current nouvelle écriture, a new generation of poets struggling with experiments on language, including M. Beaulieu, N. Brossard, also author of novels and plays, and many others. In the highly diversified framework of narrative production, the voices of L. Caron and V.-L. Beaulieu, while the feminist movement makes itself felt with M. Gagnon, narrator and poetess, and with Y. Villemaire, who makes wise use of the joual.

The contemporary novel combines all possible experiences, between rupture and continuity. Among the various trends, the desire to attract the public by resorting to realistic themes also seems to emerge. Not only is the most intimate reality exposed, through autobiographical works, but also the collective reality, with its most burning and current themes: marginalization, social unease, homosexuality. Among the most significant voices emerge the female ones of M. Larue, F. D’Amour and M. Proulx.

Canada Literature in French 3