Le Canada anglais de Jacques Ferron (1960-1970). Formes, fonctions et représentations

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Murphy, Susan
literature , Québécois
Jacques Ferron (1921-1985), one of the most influential Québécois writers of the 20th century, declared near the end of his life that he wrote his books not for the world but for an “unfinished country” like him, a country that would have liked to become sovereign, just as he would have liked to have become a truly accomplished writer. The author’s individual search for identity is thus inextricable from that of the Québécois nation. Strangely enough, however, Ferron’s polyvalent and prolific oeuvre abounds with references, both textual and paratextual, to English Canada, the English language, and literature in English. This thesis shows how this English Canadian intertextuality in Ferron’s work plays an essential role in his representation of the search for the Québécois identity, both personal and collective. The different manifestations of this intertextuality as they appear in a representative sampling of texts published during the author’s most productive period (1960 to1970) are therefore analyzed with a view to assessing their role in the production of meaning. Given the strong autobiographical imprint of Ferron’s work, Chapter 2 examines the author’s formative encounters with English and English Canada. Chapters 3 and 4 then study the implications of his first two English Canadian dedicatees, Scott Symons (La tête du roi, 1963) and Peter Dwyer (Le salut de l’Irlande, 1970), exposing the complex relationship between these English Canadians and the works in which they appear. The bulk of the thesis, however, is devoted to the “Scot cycle”, a series of three novels (La nuit, La charrette, et Le ciel de Québec) that feature a protagonist whose model is the well-known English Canadian jurist and poet, Frank R. Scott. After reviewing in Chapter 5 Ferron’s personal relationship with Scott and his representation in various polemical articles, Chapter 6 analyses the complexity and importance of the English Canadian literary code in La nuit. A study of the metamorphoses of the character inspired by Frank Scott throughout the “Scot cycle” (Chapters 7 through 9) further illustrates the extent to which the English Canadian is a necessary element for the depiction of the Québécois.
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