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296 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 guys B an assumption that leads to absurd generalizations such as the following: >in realist fiction women must not love but be loved.= In realist fiction, sex is not enjoyable, but in the non-realist fiction of a >minor= writer like Armin Wiebe, the characters >enjoy sex despite the strict Mennonite mores against it.= Mennonite mores against sex? One has to wonder where all those large families come from. Reimer picks up terms with a long history of standard usage and torments them like silly putty. Take, for example, the word lyric. >The lyrical might be said to be the Aofficial,@= he writes. The >lyrical tradition of the colossal restraint of allusion,= he claims, is what limits the poetry of Patrick Friesen. To restrain the material by using few words is to >wish to control the new space by being Afrigid@ and doling out the body in snippets.= There is something bizarrely perverse and self-defeating about all this. Like a spiralling circle of dominoes that fall in on themselves, Reimer=s false dichotomies collapse, taking the specious argument of the book along with them. (MAGDALENE REDEKOP) Marie Carrière. Writing in the Feminine in French and English Canada: A Question of Ethics University of Toronto Press. viii, 244. $55.00 This study of five women writers, two from Quebec and three from English Canada, provides a valuable contribution to the assessment, almost thirty years after its first appearance, of what is known in Canada as >writing in the feminine.= The original term >écriture au féminin= served to distinguish the formal experimentation practised by Nicole Brossard and a number of other women writers in Quebec in the 1970s and 1980s from the problematic >écriture féminine= promulgated in France by Hélène Cixous. These writers defined themselves as feminist (with North American connotations) rather than >feminine= (as deployed in the French context), although like Cixous they acknowledged the influence on their work of French poststructuralist theorists, especially Derrida. Most previous studies of this type of writing (such as those by Louise Dupré or Karen Gould) have focused on a group of francophone women authors who, initially at least, made collaboration part of their project. The fact that Brossard and others (particularly Louky Berianik and France Théoret) chose to share their work and their feminist theorizing with writers and academics in English Canada led to a unique effort at communication and cross-fertilization across the country (as illustrated by the bilingual review Tessera), and the production of a body of texts in English that lend themselves to the kind of comparisons undertaken by Marie Carrière. All of the writers discussed are preoccupied by issues of language in relation to a problematic female subjectivity and relationship to writing, and some specifically address those raised by translation and interference humanities 297 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 between French and English. Carrière chooses to concentrate on poetry rather than prose fiction (although such generic distinctions break down), and concentrates on Brossard and Théoret to illustrate writing in French. This choice is not surprising, whereas the selection of English-language writers is less obvious. In particular, it excludes Daphne Marlatt, whose work has often been compared with that of Brossard (see Susan Knutson, Narrative in the Feminine, 2000). The three represented here include two who have connections to French (Erin Mouré and Lola Lemire Tostevin) and one who has none (Di Brandt). The work of all five authors is assessed in relation to >feminine= imagery and themes, primarily based on the motherdaughter relationship, which has different functions in the case of the three (Brossard, Mouré, and Brandt) who incorporate a lesbian subjectivity into their texts. The study is framed by a general theoretical discussion of the ethics of intersubjectivity, as elaborated by Levinas and Ricoeur as well as Irigaray and Kristeva. The rapport to the maternal-feminine as same and other, and its varied effects on and in these writers= poetic use of language, provide a common basis for a closer look at a range of individual...


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