To inaugurate an anthological collection drawn from the literary fund of Leméac, this prestigious publishing house brought together nine prose works by Antonine Maillet, beginning in 1957 with the novel Pointe-aux-Coques. We find in this first volume essentials, such as Pelagie-la-Charrette (Goncourt Prize 1979). It is both a fabulous immersion in the work of a great lady of Francophone literature and a work inseparable from Acadia.
More than 60 years after the release of Pointe-aux-Coques, Antonine Maillet still speaks with as much enthusiasm about her career. She has never stopped writing and has just completed her next project – a tale starring Radi, Teddy Bear and Scapin.
“I’m fine when my job is going well and I finished a book yesterday!” That’s not bad! ”She exclaims at the outset, in a telephone interview. “Guess what’s my last word?” Hmm … Acadia? “No … hope!” Mischievous, she laughs heartily … as always. “The two go together, actually.”
The great lady of literature received volume 1 of Works the same day she finished her next book. Before publication, she immersed herself in each of these works.
“The books that I thought were the best, I found faults in them, I found things in them that I didn’t like. And the books that I had neglected a bit, I did not remember too much … well, they were good! It’s curious: after all these years, we have a different judgment. ”
She reread Pointe-aux-Coques, his first novel published, with pleasure. “I had a pretty harsh judgment on this book, because it was the first one that I wrote entirely. I was in my early twenties. I tried to write very correctly, very French, all that. When I reread it, I found there was a rhythm, feelings. The second book, We ate the dune, I wrote it squarely in Acadian – the Acadian language. ”
In her work, Antonine Maillet has created more than 1000 characters, emerging from her culture and her imagination. And everyone has had their role model in real life, she wrote in the introduction.
In an interview, she specifies. “I never invented any character pieces. I’ve always been inspired by someone real. My characters are people that I can see, that I can name. Of course, I transform them – probably most wouldn’t recognize themselves. When it’s not a person, it could be two or three people who inspired me to create a character. “
This is the case for the cult figure of La Sagouine and for Pelagie-la-Charrette. For the latter, she had two or three models in mind … and remembers having experienced an identity crisis at 5 years old, being neither “Canadian” (that is to say from Quebec) nor “English” . Her mother then revealed to her that she was Acadian.
“Afterwards, she added: Acadia no longer exists. I must have burst into tears again … because she hugged me. She told me: don’t worry, she will come back to life, because we are going to bring her back to life. And I’m sure that’s the day Pélagie was born. ”
The memory of a people
In the introduction, Antonine Maillet writes that one can dispossess a people of its land, but not of its soul, its language, its memory.
“I had a role to play, it’s true, I’m aware of that. I am aware that with La Sagouine, I relaunched Acadia. I made it known to the world. With Pelagie too. If I revealed a people to the world, well, of course I played a part. ”
With writing, she helped save the memory of a people.
- Antonine Maillet was born in 1929 in Bouctouche, New Brunswick.
- She has published around fifty books (novels, tales, plays and essays), including La Sagouine, Pélagie-la-Charrette (Goncourt price 1979), The eighth day, The Way of St. James, The mysterious journey of Nothing, Trust the sea, it will carry you and, most recently, on the occasion of its ninetieth anniversary, A nod to the passing of time.
- His fame extends to the whole of the Francophonie, and his work is today translated into many languages.
- His new tale will be out soon.
“ And, gazing lost between the little yellow flames which danced at an even rhythm, my father began to tell me — how the idea had come to him-,
young man, to leave, to leave his village and his family and to go in search of work in a foreign country. The taste for adventure had tempted him so strongly that he had given in.
Once his boat and fishing tackle had been sold, he said goodbye to his family, without grievance or resentment, but letting them know that he would never come back.
No one had cared too much about it, thinking that once his desires for escape were sated, the adventurer would regain his taste for reality and turn around. “
► Works I includes: Pointe-aux-Coques – We ate the dune – From behind at my father’s house – Don l’Orignal – Mariaagélas – Emmanuel to Joseph in Dâvit – The Cordes-de-Bois – Pélagie-la-Charrette – La Gribouille (One hundred years in the woods)
- In the form of retrospectives, CORPUS LEMÉAC will offer a rereading of the founding works of the catalog. Series are already planned with the worlds of Hubert Aquin, Marcel Dubé, Jacques Ferron, Françoise Loranger, Jovette Marchessault, Francine Noël, Antonine Maillet, Jacques Poulin, Michel Tremblay …