Women and Narrative Identity: Rewriting the Quebec National Text

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 197 pages
Annotation Women writers have made significant contributions to Quebec's ongoing process of cultural self-definition. Because the novel has traditionally played a central role in the construction of national identity, Quebec literary history has seen the continued production of identity narratives, which Jacques Godbout calls the "national text". Using the tools of contemporary feminist criticism and building on a tradition of work on Quebec women's writing, Mary Jean Green considers issues of national and cultural self-definition, situating the literary texts of Quebec women within a unique political and historical context while also relating them to the work of women writing in other cultural situations, from nineteenth-century Europe to the postcolonial francophone world. Green demonstrates that the "national text" has at times functioned to constrain women's literary expression, while in other cases it has empowered the feminine voice, endowing it with a unique identitary power. She shows that writerssuch as Laure Conan, Germaine Guevremont, Gabrielle Roy, Anne Hebert, and Marie-Claire Blais have been recognized as important because they have been widely perceived as speaking to and about the people of Quebec. The Quebec identity narrative has offered women writers a framework within which they are able not only to make their voices heard but to tell a story of feminine dispossession and desire that often questions central cultural values.

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