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  • Littératures mineures en langue majeure: Québec/Wallonie-Bruxelles
Littératures mineures en langue majeure: Québec/Wallonie-Bruxelles. Textes réunis par Jean-Pierre Bertrand et Lise Gauvin . ( Documents pour l’histoire des francophonies/Théorie, 1) Brussels, P.I.E. — Oxford, Peter Lang — Montreal, Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2003. 320 pp. Pb £19.00.

The concept of 'littérature mineure' elaborated by Deleuze and Guattari in their 1975 text on Kafka has proved a far less productive notion for the theorization of instances of postcoloniality than might have been expected, even with the gift of hindsight, given the omnipresence of the 'rhizomatic' and the 'nomadic' as key [End Page 420] conceptual tools of postcolonial analysis ever since the publication of Mille Plateaux five years later. In the earlier text, Deleuze–Guattari remind readers that a 'littérature mineure n'est pas celle d'une langue mineure, plutôt celle qu'une minorité fait dans une langue majeure' (p. 29) and go on to identify three characteristics of such literature: 'la déterritorialisation de la langue, le branchement de l'individuel sur l'immédiat-politique, l'agencement collectif d'énonciation' (p. 33). The conception of 'minor literature' that emerges from the case study of Kafka is not one of any simple hierarchical configuration expressed as a binary (major/minor), but rather as a transversal revolutionary principle inhabiting the practice of literature and the interplay of plurilingualism within specific socio-political contexts.

As the title of Bertrand and Gauvin's volume makes clear, the Deleuze–Guattari text provided the starting point from which they sought to extrapolate when organizing the Liège conference of 2001 comparing francophone literary production from Québec and Belgium. Quite naturally, individual contributions engage with the preoccupations and insights of Deleuze–Guattari in a more or less spasmodic manner and with varying degrees of intensity. Nor is there any a priori reason why engagement with their work on Kafka should be considered as a criterion for judging the quality of the texts in this book. Indeed, Gauvin's own contribution begins with a critique of the way Deleuze and Guattari rather selectively exploited translations of Kafka when elaborating their own conceptual base. She goes on, through a series of 'variations' on the theme of literary minority, to provide telling insights into aspects of the 'scénographie québecoise', in particular, the pervasiveness of linguistic insecurity and the notion of 'surconscience linguistique'. Equally impressive, this time as an introduction to the Belgian literary scene, is Jean-Marie Klinkenberg's analysis of the centrifugal and centripetal strategies, which he argues are the common modes of response to the situation of linguistic dependency in which francophone Belgium finds itself. As one might expect of a volume originating from a conference, this is, in many ways, an uneven book. Numerically, far more contributions address the Quebec literary scene than the Belgian, and in terms of analytical quality there are a few pieces that disappoint. On the other hand, there are excellent contributions from, among others, Michel Biron on 'l'écrivain liminaire' and Pierre Halen who argues (through a critique of Godbout, Muno and Confiant) that many francophone writers 'stage' the periphery's conflictual relationship with the centre within their narratives. Overall, this volume has a great deal to commend it: the vibrancy of the Quebec literary scene shines through and the invitation to approach francophone texts through the Deleuze–Guattari concept of linguistic deterritorialization is far from exhausted by the collective efforts of the contributors.

Patrick Corcoran
Roehampton University

Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Launched on MUSE
2007-01-10
Open Access
No
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