Two celebrations set the tone for our 2004 reflection on whither literary translation in Canada. The year marked both the four hundredth anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's landing in Acadia and the thirty-fifth birthday of the federal Commission for Official Languages. The vastly different time-lines of these two events are a striking reminder of translation's inexplicably recent institutional foothold in Canadian cultural life. 'The history of linguistic duality in Canada,' writes Commissioner Dyane Adam in her special anniversary report, 'is full of twists and turns, needless repetitions, epic struggles, missed opportunities, strokes of luck, spectacular breakthroughs and tiny steps forward, but the end result is real [End Page 118] progress in all sectors.' In this latter respect, perhaps the most positive bit of news for literary translation in Canada in 2004 was Heritage Canada's long-overdue decision to double the small budget of the Canada Council Translation Grant Program for the next two years. This is only a temporary measure, but very welcome; in recent years the program has turned away worthy projects for translation, owing to lack of funds.
At its 2004 gala in Montreal, the League of Canadian Poets named Trois-Rivières poet and publisher Gaston Bellemare an honorary member, in recognition of his undaunted work to make Canadian poets of both languages known throughout the world. Director of les Écrits des Forges for over twenty-five years, and founder of the Festival international de la poésie de Trois-Rivières, Bellemare has consistently encouraged communication between anglophone and francophone poets. It was a historic moment, as Bellemare is the first Québécois to receive the honour. In a moving acceptance speech, he touched upon the very positive role that translation can play in intercultural communication: 'Je rêve que nous partagions par la traduction et les festivals, chaque année, nos poètes et nos poèmes dont les écritures sont si différentes mais dont les émotions sont si près l'une de l'autre et les poètes si près les uns des autres. Nous avons en commun de parler constamment avec les trois seuls mots importants de ce monde: la vie, l'amour et la mort.'1
A few journals highlighted translation and intercultural questions in 2004. Livre d'ici organized a colloquium entitled 'Le livre à la croisée des langues,' at the Montreal Salon du livre in November. Organizer Yves Dion noted: 'Nous lisons beaucoup de littérature étrangère et, pourtant, nous connaissons très mal ce qui se fait du côté du Canada anglais. Nous ignorons même les écrivains anglophones qui vivent au Québec !'2 This is a statement one would like to read in English about how little we know our francophone writers. In another issue, a sign of more exchanges within the francophone and anglophone publishing communities, Livre d'ici offered a review of Roy MacSkimming's book, The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada's Authors. Readers will be interested in an article by Catherine Leclerc (« L'Acadie rayonne: lire France Daigle à travers la traduction ») in a special issue of Voix et images devoted to the Acadian writer.3 The seventeenth issue of Francophonies d'Amérique offers a wide-ranging exploration of intercultural issues in Canadian and American francophone communities, in what editor Paul Dubé calls a 'voyage dans les méandres de cette francophonie à tous les plans plurielle.' Canadian Literature brought the two solitudes together in an issue devoted to the question of oral voices in [End Page 119] literature: 'De quoi l'on cause/Talking Point.' The presentation, by coeditors Réjean Beaudoin and Laurie Ricou, weaves delightfully from one literature to the other: 'And while we are celebrating talk in literature, take a moment for the talkiest novel in all of Canadian writing: Antonine Maillet's Pélagie-la-charette. What a cartload of voices there. And, what an allowance is provided for confusion.'
Trends in English-Canadian Translation4
The number of English-language translations published in Canada increased considerably in 2004, with a total of thirty-six books received as...