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The Quebec Anthology

The Quebec Anthology: 1830-1990

Matt Cohen
Wayne Grady
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 424
  • Book Info
    The Quebec Anthology
    Book Description:

    The Quebec Anthology: 1830-1990provides a complete overview of the Quebec short story from its beginnings to the 1990s and offers a unique opportunity for English readers to discover the essence of this fascinating literature. In addition, a detailed biography of each author and an assessment of each story's place in the larger canvas of Quebec literature are included.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-1721-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Matt Cohen and Wayne Grady

    The literature of French Canada has always been difficult to summarize and encapsulate, which may be why there are so few anthologies of it, and why the critical histories that exist have been so controversial. Although Québécois literature flourished during the first half of the nineteenth century, its principal genre was theconte,an oral not a written form—which presents a distinct problem for the anthologist. French Canada did not really have a written literature until the publication of Frangçois-Xavier Garneau'sHistoire du Canada,the first volumes of which began appearing in 1845.One needn't go as far as Gérard...

  4. “The Legend of Rose Latulipe” 1837
    (pp. 1-7)
    Philippe Aubert de Gaspé the Younger

    There was once a man by the name of Latulipe, who had a daughter whom he loved madly. Rose Latulipe was a pretty brunette; but she was daring by nature, not to say indiscreet. She had a friend by the name of Gabriel Lepard, whom she loved like the pupil of her eye. However, it is said that when others made advances she played him false. She liked parties, so on a Shrove Tuesday there were some fifty people gathered at Latulipe’s. Contrary to her usual practice, Rose spent the whole evening with her fiancé; it was natural enough: they...

  5. “The Three Devils or, All’s Well That Ends Well” 1867
    (pp. 8-21)
    Paul Stevens

    There was once a shoemaker whose name was Rich, though he himself was far from it. Had he been consulted at his baptism he would probably have chosen a different name, but as we all know we can no more choose our names than we can our fates. The wisest among us accept both as they come to us, and make the best of them.

    It is also true, by the way, that a person’s name and character are not always perfectly matched. I once knew a boy who answered to the name Goodchild and who, without a word of...

  6. “The Roussis’ Fire” 1872
    (pp. 22-37)
    Narcisse-Henri-Édouard Faucher de Saint-Maurice

    At the outset it must be said that Little Cyprien Roussi had not performed his Easter duties for six years an eleven months.

    The seventh year was near at hand, and, since it was the age when people in that sad condition were turned into werewolves or such creatures, the busybodies of the village of Good-St-Anne-of-the-North gabbed to their heart’s content about the wretched man.

    “He who laughs last, laughs longest,” Widow Demers was saying. “When he has to roam the fields, all night long, without being able to rest, he’ll have time to mull over the remorse which...

  7. “Yellow-Wolf, Malecite Chieftain of Old” 1893
    (pp. 38-52)
    Phillippe Aubert de Gaspé the Elder

    Among the Indians who camped each year on our beach during my childhood was an old Malecite by the name of Yellow-Wolf. According to mv father’s calculations, taking into account this Indian’s acquaintance with the men of yesteryear and the events he had witnessed, he must have been a hundred years old at the time. Yellow-Wolf was a great favourite with my family, and my father loved to get him talking abou t the adventures of his long career.

    The old Indian was in the habit of pitching his wigwam at some distance from his fellows. He seemed to...

  8. “La Gothe and Her Husband” 1895
    (pp. 53-63)
    Robertine Barry

    “Such stifling weather! We’re sure to have rain.” “No sooner said than done. A great drop just fell on my nose. Heaven knows how drenched we’re going to be!” “Excellent reason to make haste and find shelter. This little path leads to the home of Mère Madeloche, the nearest neighbour. Follow me—if we go quickly we can be there before the storm.”

    This was during one July hot spell. The sun’s scorching rays had been beating down so intensely, it seemed like the days of Phaeton, when he grazed the earth, venturing to set it ablaze....

  9. “How I Learned to Speak English” 1900
    (pp. 64-68)
    Louis Fréchette

    Our closest neighbours were an English family name Houghton. They had two sons, Bonnie and Dozzie. There was a daughter, too, but never mind her for now—I was too young for the more interesting half of humanity, what we call the fair sex, to hold any interest for me. Quite the reverse, in fact: I was more disposed to pity girls, small, fragile creatures that they were, with no wind for running, who had to wear skirts that prevented them from having all kinds of fun, especially climbing trees, turning somersaults, or rolling head over heels down hills.

    My brother Edmond and I and the two...

  10. “Hay Fever” 1917
    (pp. 69-88)
    Sylva Clapin

    One afternoon in February, while the snow outside was blowing to beat the devil, Ambroise Latourelle, justice of the peace and postmaster of the little village of X in the region of Lac Saint-Pierre, was dozing beside his woodstove when the door was suddenly flung open and in walked a stranger, bringing with him a gust of cold air. Old Ambroise (as he was known thereabouts), roused from his reveries, recognized the newcomer as the man who had come in the day before to ask if there had been any mail for him, saying he was a salesman for a...

  11. “The Ferryman” 1920
    (pp. 89-98)
    Jean-Aubert Loranger

    On the left bank, the lower of the two, sits a village. A single street runs through it, connecting it with the life of the world outside. Small houses line the street, facing each other like guests at a table. At the very end of the street, in the place of honour, stands the church that presides over the brotherhood of small houses.

    On the right bank, the steeper one, a broad rolling plain covered with crops stretches towards the horizon, which is covered in the distance by a dense forest. Through the forest runs a little road that crosses...

  12. “The Italian Teacher” 1927
    (pp. 99-110)
    Harry Bernard

    Mademoiselle Jeanne-Aimée Bruneau was in a state. She had fallen in love with Luigi Paschetti, her Italian teacher, a soft-spoken man with a gentleman’s fine manners. Afraid of her parents, who would never forgive her for loving a man who was both poor and an immigrant, she had told no one about her feelings.

    It was the year 1843. Her father was Gilles Bruneau, a shipowner and grain-dealer whose business was located on rue Notre-Dame. He belonged to one of Montreal’s richest and most distinguished families and had three daughters of whom the eldest, Jeanne-Aimée, would soon be nineteen. The...

  13. “The Mass of Florent Létourneau” 1930
    (pp. 111-121)
    Louis Dantin

    My grandfather shook his pipe and said again:

    “They’re lucky, those folks in Saint-Jovite.

    “Fine land, good roads, mail delivery every day, carts, why they’ve even got automobiles to take themselves into town. In my day all that was woods. Before you got to the new lands you had thirty-five miles of dense woods; and some ways away, by gum, you could go all the way to the North Pole and not see a single clearing. In the winter it wasn’t uncommon that you’d open the door and standing there would be a bear seven foot tall rooting around on...

  14. “Foreign Souls” 1934
    (pp. 122-138)
    Marie le Franc

    I hesitate to talk about you. Your Anglo-Saxon modesty, sentimental paralysis I should say, is starting to affect me. I ought to be afraid of passing judgment on you, based like all human judgment on what we know about ourselves and what we don’t know about others.

    When you are far from me, I feel a curiously detached tenderness for you. When you are here, in the same city as me, I am consumed by the desire to hear your voice on the telephone, because our relations, friendly though they might be, are of this nature. When I know you’re...

  15. “Mrs. Filly” 1942
    (pp. 139-151)
    Albert Laberge

    She’d surely emptied her share of spittoons in her life, Mrs. Filly had!

    And swallowed down her share of paregoric, too! You’ve got to seek consolation somewhere, right, and forget your troubles. Some people do a lot worse than that, for sure.

    Every day, for almost forty years, she had cleaned the offices of a large insurance company that occupied an entire floor of a vast building. Some sixty men and women worked there. There were a dozen private offices and a large meeting room. At the end of every afternoon, once the employees had left, Mrs. Filly and her...

  16. “Mother Soubert’s Pig” 1944
    (pp. 152-160)
    Yves Thériault

    When Maugrand’s wife heard the noise coming from old Soubert’s cabin, she said to herself: “Sounds serious, all that whining. I’d better go take a look.”

    Which she did, and found Mother Soubert almost ready to give up the ghost, the pain in her stomach was so bad.

    “What!” said the old woman, between groans. “I’m not a young woman anymore, and yesterday I ate like a woman about to have her first baby. So today”—she barked painfully between each word—“I’m paying for it. Go away!”

    But the woman Maugrand was a midwife, and she knew about sickness,...

  17. “Fleur-de-Mai” 1945
    (pp. 161-171)
    Alain Grandbois

    The boy’s gong was truly and excessively loud. When he came into the small salon for the first-class passengers, where for the tenth time I was trying to light a cigarette limp with humidity, he redoubled his infernal clanging. I was alone. The room might have been twelve feet square. Perhaps fifteen. The boy stayed in the doorway, his torso naked, legs bare, beating his metallic disc as though he wanted to smash it in. I signalled him to stop but that only made him bang louder. Then I shouted at him—a few offensive and energetic insults—no success....

  18. “Happiness” 1946
    (pp. 172-182)

    First there was marriage, then fifteen years of hardship with his wife, a tall, thin, bony woman with a sharp tongue and a pallid face, as though she’d been blanched by a lifetime in the kitchen over tubs full of hot water. They’d had eleven children, five of whom survived, miraculously. That year they were all living in four rooms on the second floor of a tenement on Labrecque; he often wondered what kept the building from collapsing into its own cluttered yard, not that he cared. They were moving in May anyway, throwing together their few belongings, their three-legged...

  19. “The Torrent” 1947
    (pp. 183-218)
    Anne Hébert

    I was a child bereft of the world. A will that took precedence over my own decreed that I was to renounce any possession during this life. I touched the world in fragments, only those that were immediately indispensable to me and that were taken away as soon as their usefulness had ended: the notebook I was to open, but not the table on which it lay; the corner of the stable to be cleaned, not the hen that perched on the windowsill; and never, never the countryside that was offered through the window. I would see my mother’s big...

  20. “Last Rites” 1960
    (pp. 219-230)
    Gérard Bessette

    Last Monday at about eleven o’clock at night, just as I was getting ready for bed, I received a telephone call: my old friend Étienne Beaulieu had been struck down by a sudden attack of paralysis. I quickly got dressed again and, without even taking the time to put on my hat, hastened over to his house, which was only a few blocks from mine.

    I had known Étienne for a long time. We’d been to college together, and then to university, and after graduating with our law degrees we had set up a joint practice in an office down...

  21. “A Case of Sorcery” 1963
    (pp. 231-239)
    Adrien Thério

    If you’d visited the Chemin-Taché fifty years ago, and were to pass by it again today, you wouldn’t recognize a thing.

    Everything has changed!

    I might as well tell you that the land I come from is anything but fertile. Sitting on a mountain, a mountain that turns into a plateau once you get there, a wide plateau with an evil glare that first shows you its notches and crags, its tortuous hills and its lowlands where your feet bog down in the bad earth, it seems to defy the horizons and all the human beings who ever ventured there....

  22. “The Chronicles of l’Anse Saint-roch” 1968
    (pp. 240-254)
    Jacques Ferron

    Between the lighthouse of Madeleine and the Mont-Louis bridge, the line that separates land from sea, when seen from the top of the cliffs, is unmistakeable. The shore itself, however, can only be reached by four valleys, three of which are clearly visible and one that is almost impossible to detect. The first are called, from east to west, Manche d’Épée, Gros-Morne, and L’Anse-Pleureuse; they cut deeply into the cliff-face, but the bays they feed are small and exposed to all weather. “From Madeleine to Saint-Louis,” the old sailors used to say, “you can’t believe what you see; just pass...

  23. “Back On April Eleventh” 1969
    (pp. 255-267)
    Hubert Aquin

    When your letter came I was reading a Mickey Spillane. I’d already been interrupted twice, and was having trouble with the plot. There was this man Gardner, who for some reason always carted around the photo of a certain corpse. It's true I was reading to kill time. Now I’m not so interested in killing time.

    It seems you have no idea of what’s been going on this winter. Perhaps you’re afflicted with a strange, intermittent amnesia that wipes out me, my work, our apartment, the brown record-player . . . I assure you I can’t so easily forget this...

  24. “The Goldfish” 1970
    (pp. 268-283)
    Roch Carrier

    Tonight my father and I are entertaining my mother and her husband at our house.

    My girlfriends at school didn’t think it was funny when I told them my father and I were entertaining my mother and her new husband.

    I think it’s a good idea.

    In the past, my father and I would meet my mother in a restaurant. They would have me served a Château Champlain sundae: ice cream of every flavour and colour, butterscotch, chocolate, marshmallow, with grenadine syrup, fresh strawberries, cherries, walnuts, sliced banana and pineapple, green grapes and raisins—and a chocolate milkshake to drink....

  25. “A Blue Rose Perfume” 1974
    (pp. 284-297)
    André Langevin

    “She saw the city from this window?” the man asks. Motionless, his hands flat on the spread-out newspaper, he is looking at the livid emptiness, suddenly dotted with a thousand clusters of light. The tall buildings mired in the dying January daylight are lit up, straighten up with a jerk, just as they are about to keel over and disappear.

    “She tried to see the river and the mountains—then she got dizzy, I suppose,” he adds, in a faint voice which hardly carries in the deepening gloom, but which I can hear clearly above the loud digestion of a...

  26. “PART II of Children of My Heart” 1979
    (pp. 298-325)
    Gabrielle Roy

    The school to which I was appointed that year could, I suppose, be called a part of the village, though it hung back at the very end, separated from the last houses by a good-sized field in which a cow used to graze. Despite this gap, there was no doubt that I belonged to the village—a dreary place with its poor houses, most of them in unpainted wood, already decrepit before the last board was nailed; and its tiny chapel, built out of antagonism to the next village with its rich and fancy church. But it was out of...

  27. “The Good Old Days” 1981
    (pp. 326-339)
    André Major

    She’d ended up accepting; she still wondered why. Simply to avoid having a guilty conscience? For months he’d been going on about Bernard, the good old days with his friend Bernard, all the things they’d done together, the sleepless nights spent smoking in front of an open fire. Jean-Louis’s eyes glowed whenever he spoke of these things, recalling new details each time that caused him to marvel. It was a Friday evening. The forecast was for a sweltering weekend.

    “We could go out there, if you're so set on it.”

    “To Bernard’s, you mean?”

    “What do you think I’m talking...

  28. “The Secret Voice” 1982
    (pp. 340-345)
    Gaétan Brulotte

    Avoice. Which shattered language. Deliciously. A foreign voice, which said: “Touch me. I am the skin of time. And I never think. Thought, knowledge, meditation—there are many people still struggling at this level. Let’s leave them to it. You and I—we go beyond. There is nothing to understand, my sweet. It is enough to experience. Yes—in feeling everything. To feel the orifice of the planet open against my mouth. To hold the beauty of our thrilling words and let ourselves reach across the night, with nothing to separate us, SWALK...”

    The voice always whispered this magic syllable,...

  29. “Beach Blues” 1983
    (pp. 346-373)
    Monique Proulx

    The sea. Violet, violent, the scent or liquid guts and viscera drifting windward, perfectly casual, dreadfully colossal beneath the cape of light that sets it afire so that it sizzles to the very depths of space, to infinity; it lies there before me, rushes to meet me, and I shrink back, I let myself fall to the ground, terrified, subjugated, overwhelmed, shuddering from head to toe. You got me again, you slut, it’s the same thing every time we get together, you swallow my heart, you make me howl with confusion and amazement, you bring me to my hands and...

  30. “Pomme Douly and the Instant of Eternity” 1988
    (pp. 374-381)
    Suzanne Jacob

    Always getting by. There is always someone at hand to murmur the right phrase into Pomme Douly’s ear. At the moment, she is getting by by working as a clerk at a Steinberg’s supermarket, the one near the corner of Côtedes-Neiges and Queen Mary Road. The northwest corner. Not right at the corner, but almost. It looks out under its heavy awnings like a prostitute with too much mascara, peering across the street into the window of the Renaud-Bray bookstore. Pomme makes this depressing observation to the parasite who is currently inhabiting her refrigerator and her Coree comforter, and when...

  31. “To Console Myself. I Imagine That the Bombs Have Fallen” 1989
    (pp. 382-384)
    Anne Dandurand

    To console myself. I imagine that the bombs have fallen. By chance three thousand people in the Métro have been spared. I imagine the chaos, the terror and, very quickly, the organization for survival. The beginning of the women survivors’ great anger, which will last three thousand years.

    Establishment of a new order, an absolute matriarchy. Genetic manipulations, mutations, parthenogenesis—women have created a new race.

    Men now have ten arms around their bodies. They lose their memories every evening and only get them back in the morning: this keeps them confused and in a state of servitude. We women...

  32. “In My Condition” 1989
    (pp. 385-389)
    Gilles Pellerin

    Something to show me, just two minutes, promise, anyway it’s easy to see that I’m tired, nothing more normal in my condition.

    My condition, how could I forget it? All evening we’ve been talking of nothing else. I come in, everyone rushes up, it seems I’m looking well, even blooming, that is my face and my stomach. When everyone has taken a good look and assured me that it suits me marvellously, they rush to kiss my blooming face. We have always given each other generous kisses, but it seems to me the mouths are warmer, sweeter, moister than usual....

  33. “The Love of Lies” 1989
    (pp. 390-394)
    Claude-Emmanuelle Yance

    “Flowers of Evil. Some of you have already done this research. Your relevant commentary, we feel sure, will guide us through this wonderful labyrinth that may eventually lead us—or may not—to the quintessence of the poem. Yes, please, speak.. . You in the middle ...”

    . . . in this little restaurant. Right here, across the way, at the corner of Rue d’Assas and Vaugirard, for example. The big foggy bay windows on this rainy day. The invisible wall of warm air you push through as you go inside. The smells, sharp yet fleeting. I’ll have to wait...

  34. “Tragedy Houses My Wounds” 1990
    (pp. 395-408)
    André Carpentier

    Every day lately there is this uncontrollable shaking, to the point where any sense of my own precariousness is completely shattered. Alone in my house in the Lakes region south of Riviére-du-Loup, I am slowly giving in to the contraction of light. I am ridding myself of the reality of others, I want my mind to need nothing but the symbols of self-denial, the indices of nonexistence. Little by little, my mind has lost all sense of connectedness; I am no longer capable of anything more complicated than saying whether certain randomly chosen chambers of thought are close together or...

  35. “COMSUMIMG LOVE” 1990
    (pp. 409-412)
    Claire Dé

    I loved him right away. As soon as I entered into his service. I was still very young, an orphan. His wife had just died unexpectedly, there were no children. He was lonely. He needed company. He needed to feel cared for.

    Perhaps that was why I loved him: his solitude. He sweated solitude, and I have a strong sense of smell. It had the fragrance of mimosa honey laid over a base of bitterness gone slightly sour. He wasn’t so bad, just a bit withdrawn.

    As the years went by I grew very attached to him. I didn’t so...

  36. “Portraits of Elsa” 1990
    (pp. 413-424)
    Marie José Thériault

    When she removes her stockings, Elsa does not roll them down to her ankle, then slide them over her foot. When she removes her stockings, Elsa pulls them off by the toes.

    To take them off, she has established a strict routine that gives the lie to her unfocused look as she sits on the edge of the bed, as though everything, the room itself, the particular time of day, the suspicious presence of a witness, as though all that, as I was saying, meant absolutely nothing at all.

    She sits and places her bag on the floor. She displays...

  37. Back Matter
    (pp. 425-427)