Le Mythe de Maria Chapdelaine by Nicole Deschamps, Raymonde Héroux, Normand Villeneuve, and: Maria Chapdelaine, Récit du Canada français by Louis Hémon, and: Louis Hémon, aventurier ou philosophe? by Gilbert Lévesque, and: Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon (review)
- University of Toronto Quarterly
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 50, Number 4, Summer 1981
- pp. 184-190
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184 LETTERS IN CANADA 1980 subsidies, from outside Manitoba's boundaries, one might add: what more ironic note than her account of the long-awaited visit from Montreal's Theatre du Nouveau-Monde in 1958, which offered the new play by Quebec's up-and-coming playwright, Marcel Dub", Le Temps des lilas ." in English! Saint-Pierre's study encompasses five areas: first, a history of theatre in the educational institutions, for it was there that the art took root in Manitoba, as it had in Quebec; next, an account of stage performances in the little French-speaking parishes, followed by a history of such activity in the growing municipal centres of St Boniface and Winnipeg. She then provides a detailed study of the Cercle Moliere, now entering its 56th season and, lastly, a useful analysis of theatre written in Manitoba to the present. A solid conclusion follows (in which the author does not resist the temptation to tell her most avid readers, the Franco-Manitobans, how they should conduct their cultural affairs in future), but the DPUS is really crowned by the admirable appendix she provides. This is a listing, in chronological order, by locality, and apparently in complete form, of all known French-language plays and programmes performed between June 1870 andJanuary 1977- some 1300 productions. What a boon for student and researcher, and perhaps especially for those interested in probing the reasons behind the often remarkable Similarity one notices between the fare offered in that semi-exotic, semi-tar-ouest, and what was being presented at any given time to more 'sophisticated' audiences in Montreal and Quebec! Saint-Pierre's warm, detailed reconstruction may perhaps someday be expanded upon. One feels it will never be superseded. From these eight volumes, viewed in conjunction with the other studies that have appeared since 1970, comes a better understanding of the genetic forces at work over the centuries and an informed appreciation of the immediate roots of currentdrama in French.Butperhaps more striking still is the sophistication of the tools here employed, and the concomitant maturity of the critical approaches displayed. Few critics would now dispute that French-Canadian theatre has come of age: has FrenchCanadian theatre-criticism reached the age of reason as well? (L.E. DOUCETTE) Nicole Deschamps, Raymonde Heroux, and Normand Villeneuve. Le Mythe de Maria Chapdelaine Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal. 26). $19.75 Louis Hernon. Maria Chapdelaine, Recit du Canada fran,ais Preface by Nicole Deschamps, annotated by Ghislaine Legendre Boreal Express. 216. $8.75 HUMANITIES 18S Gilbert Levesque. Louis Hernon, aventurier ou philosophe? Fides. 64. $3.00 Louis H~mon. Maria Chapdelaine. Illustrated by Clarence Gagnon Art global I Libre Expression. 206. $70.00 The year 1980 marked the centenary of the birth of Louis Hernon, author of one of the world's biggest best-sellers, Maria Chapdelaine, a work that has been translated into nearly twenty languages. Besides the festivities that marked this event in Peribonka, in the Lac Saint-Jean region of the novel's setting, with the participation of the author's daughter Lydia Kathleen, last year also saw the publication of two significant editions of the novel: one, the first based on the original manuscript; the other, a variant of the 1933 deluxe Paris edition with colour illustrations by Clarence Gagnon. There also appeared an important critical study, Le Mythe de Maria Chapdelaine, under the guidance of Nicole Deschamps, who had already edited Hernon's letters to his family, and who discovered the original manuscript for the novel in Quimper, Britanny, in 1966, in the family's archives. Anumber ofother publicationsalso appeared in honour of the anniversary. LeMythe deMaria Chapdelaine by Nicole Deschamps, Raymonde Heroux, and Normand Villeneuve is clearly a major study, the fruit of meticulous research into the origins and development of the cult centred on Hernon's novel in France and in French Canada. Deschamps, in her preface, notes the plethora of commentaries on Maria Chapdelaine, 'divergeant du recit de Hernon, I'occultant, Ie prolongeant, Ie modulant, parfois Ie recreant jusque dans ses donnees fondamentales,' adding that rarely in contemporary literary history has one seen suchan immense apres-texte. Hernon's novel has inspired lectures...