Quebec literature

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This is an article about literature in Quebec.

16th and 17th centuries[edit]

During this period, the society of New France was being built with great difficulty. The French merchants contracted to transport colonists did not respect their end of the bargain, and the French and their Indian allies were at war with the Iroquois, allied to the English until 1701, etc. To add to these difficulties, the printing press was officially forbidden in Canada until the British Conquest.

In spite of this, some notable documents were produced in the early days of colonization and were passed down from generation to generation until today. The Voyage of Jacques Cartier, the Muses de la Nouvelle-France of Marc Lescarbot, the Voyages of Samuel de Champlain are memories of the exploration of North America and the foundation of New France.

The Relations des jésuites, Le Grand voyage au pays des Hurons of Gabriel Sagard, the Écrits of Marguerite Bourgeois were written by the many religious founders of New France who had undertaken the task of converting the Sauvages to Christianity.

Many songs and poems were transmitted orally by the early French settlers. A popular French ballad, À la claire fontaine was adapted by the voyageurs and gave us the version that is known today in Quebec.

The first patriotic song of Quebec (then known as le Canada) was written by a soldier, François Mariauchau d'Esgly. Entitled C'est le Général de Flip, it paid tribute to the resistance of the French at Quebec during the siege of General William Phips in 1690.

In France, Canada and New France in general caught the interest of many writers, notably François Rabelais who refers to Cartier and Roberval in Pantagruel.

18th century[edit]

Until 1760, the themes of nature, explorations, and the Sauvages continued to mark the imagination of the civilization of New France. The Moeurs des sauvages américains of Joseph-François Lafitau, Histoire de l'Amérique septentrionale of Bacqueville de la Potherie and the Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle-France are in continuity with the writings of the preceding century.

The first verified use of the term Canadien to designate the descendants of French settlers in Canada was written in a song composed in 1756 in honor of Governor Vaudreuil after the military victory of Fort Chouaguen. In 1758, Étienne Marchand wrote a famous poem in Le carillon de la Nouvelle-France. This song tells the story of the victorious battle of Fort Carillon.

The first poem written by a Canadien after the cession of Canada to Great Britain is Quand Georges trois pris l'Canada written by an anonymous author in 1763.

The Quebec Gazette newspaper was founded in Quebec City by William Brown on June 21, 1764. The bilingual paper was published in both the French language and the English language and over the years survived to be the oldest newspaper still publishing in North America.

The literary trends of Europe and the rest of America slowly penetrated the cities, primarily Quebec City and Montreal. The writings of the Enlightenment and those produced at the time of the American and French revolutions were dominant in the available literature.

Valentin Jautard and Fleury Mesplet published the first journal of Quebec, the Gazette du commerce et littéraire, in 1778–79. Valentin Jautard, a disciple of Voltaire and sympathizer with the American cause, published many poems under different pseudonyms.

Some notable names of the time are Joseph-Octave Plessis, Ross Cuthbert, Joseph Quesnel and Pierre de Sales Laterrière.

In France, Voltaire wrote L'Ingénu, the tale of a Huron who visits France and also Chateaubriand, a French noble exiled in America, wrote Atala and René.

19th century[edit]

The 19th century marks the beginning of the first real literary works published by Quebecers, including Michel Bibaud, Pierre Boucher de Boucherville, François Réal Angers, Phillipe-Ignace François Aubert de Gaspé, Amédée Papineau, Joseph Doutre, François-Xavier Garneau, Pierre Jean Olivier Chauveau, Louis-Antoine Dessaulles, H.-Émile Chevalier.

By the 1860s, Quebec authors were able to acquire a certain autonomy. It was now easier to publish a book and mass-produce it.

Antoine Gérin-Lajoie, Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé, Louis Fréchette, Arthur Buies, William Kirby, Honoré Beaugrand, Laure Conan, Edith Maude Eaton, William Chapman, Jules-Paul Tardivel, Winnifred Eaton, Pamphile Lemay were some of the key writers in this era.

An anonymous song, Les Raftsmen, became popular at the beginning of this century.

20th century[edit]

In addition, New Englanders of French-Canadian descent became important figures in American literature, notably Jack Kerouac and Grace Metalious.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lemire, Maurice (1993). La Littérature québécoise en projet, au milieu du XIXe siècle. Éditions Fides. ISBN 2-7621-1672-4

See also[edit]

External links[edit]