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Smith, Donald.

Toronto.,Anansi, c1986. 365pp. paper. $14.95. ISBN 0-88784-148-1. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

For those who do not read French, or do not regularly keep abreast of French Canadian letters, this set of interviews with fourteen major contemporary Quebec and Acadian writers will be illuminating. For those who are in touch with developments in French Canadian literature, the interviews will add insights into the literature and add to the appreciation of the writers interviewed. Originally published as L'Ecrivain devant son oeuvre, this is a translation of the French version with certain passages "revised for the convenience of the English reader." L'Ecrivain devant son oeuvre itself developed from a series of interviews that author Donald Smith undertook for the magazine Lettres Québécois

The interviews are superbly organized. For the English speaking reader, who may not be familiar with many of the writers' works or with details of their careers, the interview material is cleverly dovetailed with biographical material and brief summaries of the plots discussed, so that the reader can follow the conversation more easily. The interviews form profiles of the writers; Smith conveys an impression of their personalities, gives a synopsis of their work and their place in French Canadian literature, and in the interview lets them speak for themselves. Writers included are: Felix-Antoine Savard, Anne Hebert, Yves Theriault, Jacques perron, Gerard Bessette, Marie-Claire Blais, Jacques Godbout, Gatien La Pointe, Michel Tremblay, Antonine Maillet, Adrien Thério, Gilbert La Roque, Jean Barbeau, and Pierre Morency. The focus of the interviews is on writing as a means of expression and the forces that make these writers wish to speak in print, a focus that gives a depth to the discussion of French Canadian literature more thematic studies often lack. One is impressed by the varied personalities of these very diverse writers, and by the variety of contemporary French Canadian writing. These are fascinating portraits and provide a lively commentary on the literature.

This book is a must for any library attempting to provide a coverage of French Canadian writing for English speaking readers. It conveys a sense of the world of French Canadian letters and its diverse voices, as well as giving information about fourteen important individual writers.

Vivienne Denton. Toronto, Ont.
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