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HUMANITIES 469 litteraire de Montreal to create an autonomous 'literary institution.' A second chapter, equally novel in its content, examines the narrative patterns of Nelligan's poetry to show that its rhetoric of renunciation and redemption was not uncongenial to the bourgeoisie of Quebec's belle epoque. On the other hand, as a revised 1979 article inserted here as chapter three demonstrates, the poetic code of the poems is revolutionary in its emphasis on the autonomy of the signifiers rather than on the referentiality of the signified: lIes mots dans Ie poeme ne designent pas des objets mais des mots' (p 53). The fourth chapter reprints a 1980 study of Nelligan's most famous poem ILe Vaisseau d'or.' The sonnet, earlier dissected in celebrated articles by Paul Wyczynski and Gerard Bessette, is here subjected to a penetrating metrical, phonetic, syntactical, and semantic analysis from which biographical and psychoanalytical interpretations are deliberately excluded. The fifth chapter is a short note on the significance of the numerous variants of the poet's name appearing as signatures to his poems. The most original and most impressive section of the book is the final chapter, in which Michon scrutinizes some thirty versions of Nelligan poems included in four notebooks kept by the poet during his long confinement (1899-1941) in mental institutions. Michon's inquiry proves that, far from being senseless ramblings, the variations ofwording in the hospital texts reveal similar formal preoccupations to those evident in the poems composed during Nelligan's productive adolescence. The critic also succeeds, by ingenious sleuthing, in showing that even on the referential and intertextuallevels, the I cahiers de la folie' deserve more careful consideration than they have hitherto received. The appendices provide a bibliographical and statistical inventory of the hospital poems and a detailed chronology of Nelligan's stay in his two asylums, Saint-Benoit and Saint-Jean-de-Dieu. The lack of precise page references to the supporting documents cited in the chronology is, however, disappointing. A long final appendix (pp 126-57) reproduces from the hospital notebooks, with a minimum of annotation, the poems referred to in the sixth chapter, several of which had not been previously published. By the originality and thoroughness of its textual analyses, as well as by its extension of the Nelligan corpus to include the hospital texts, Michon's book indicates new and promising directions for Nelligan studies. (DAVID M. HAYNE) Jacqueline Gerois. Le Roman quebecois en France Cahiers du Quebec, 76, ColI Litterature. Hurtubise HMH. 359. Quebec writing, which before 1945 was considered to be merely a regional literature, has begun in recent years to receive recognition abroad. A 470 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 colloquium held at the Universite de Montreal in April 1981 explored the question and produced Lectures europeennes de la litterature quebecoise (1982). The appearance ofJacqueline Gerols's doctoral thesis now greatly advances our knowledge of the reception of Quebec novels in France during the years 1945 to 1975. The Introduction (pp 1-23) offers a rapid survey of the fortune of Quebec fiction in France since the mid-nineteenth century. This is the weakest part of the study, as it takes little or no account of previous research by Abbe Armand Yon and others. (A preliminarybibliography of the subject appeared in the Spring 1979 issue of the Canadian Review of Comparative Literature.) Once the author settles down to her study of the contemporary period, however, her findings are of great interest. The first section, 'Le Lecteur' (pp 25-66), draws on a dozen polls and questionnaires conducted in France from 1958 to 1978 to create a socio-cultural profile of the French fiction reader. Over this period the proportion of 'active readers' offive or more books a month has remained constant at about 22 per cent of the adult population. These members of the professional and management segments ofthe middle class constitute the most promising market for Quebec novels. Their reading choices are influenced by conversations with friends, colleagues, and booksellers, by television book shows (particularly the programme'Apostrophes'), by critical articles in daily and weekly newspapers, and by publicity surrounding the four major book prizes (Goncourt, Femina, Renaudot, and Interallie). Unhappily, these promotional...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 469-471
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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