Teenagers Miles and Chateaugue have run away from home and soon form a suicide pact to preserve their fleeting innocence. Written in a style that echoes Arthur Rimbaud and William S. Burroughs, Réjean Ducharme's vision is darkly prophetic of a world that has lost its way, on which “our lady of good help? only gazes with an inscrutable Mona Lisa smile.
Réjean Ducharme is one of Quebec's most influential authors, and also one of the province's enigmas: the man has not been seen in public for over a decade.
Will Browning is currently a professor of French literature at Boise State University.
About the authors
Novelist and playwright Réjean Ducharme was born in Saint-Félix-de-Valois, in the region of Joliette, Quebec in 1941. He spent seven months in the Canadian Air Force in 1962, then worked as a salesman, office clerk and cab driver before travelling across Canada, the United States and Mexico for three years. Ten of his works have been published by Gallimard which is quite an accomplishment, given the prestige of this French publishing company. His first novel, L’Avalée des avalées The Swallower Swallowed (1966), won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1967 and the French CBC’s Canada Reads competition in 2005. For this work he was one of the nation’s first writers to be nominated for France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt. His second novel, Le Nez qui voque (1967), was awarded the Prix littéraire de la province de Québec. It is published here under the title Miss Take. These two, plus a third novel, L’Océantume (1968), were published during the years of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec and made a significant impact. Ducharme wrote the plays, Le Cid maghané and Ines Pérée et Inat Tendu in 1968, and Ha ha! which won the Governor General’s Literary Award in 1982 has also been translated into English. He received the Prix Belgique-Canada in 1973 for L’Hiver de force and the Prix France-Canada in 1976 for Les Enfantômes. In addition, he wrote the lyrics of several songs for Robert Charlebois (1976). Ducharme also wrote the screenplay for two very successful films: Les Bons Débarras (1979) and Les Beaux Souvenirs (1981) produced by Francis Mankiewicz. After a fourteen-year silence, Ducharme surprised the world with two novels, Dévadé (1990) and Va savoir (1994). Réjean Ducharme is considered one of the most significant and original voices in Quebec literary history. He has also exhibited his sculptures and paintings created with found objects, under the pseudonym Roch Plante. He is not only one of Quebec’s most influential playwrights, but also one of the province’s enigmas: the man has not been seen in public for over a decade and there are few photographs of him. He followed his early work with other novels including La fille de Christophe Colomb which has since been adapted for the theatre and translated into English as The Daughter of Christopher Columbus (Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2000). His play Ha! ha! (1978, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde /TNM, directed by Jean-Pierre Ronfard ) won him another Governor General’s Award in 1982 and the Grand Prix littéraire du Journal de Montréal. Ducharme’s work is very difficult to categorize; it delights in a kind of dark, childlike fantasy and skates along difficult issues like Quebec Nationalism, language and culture and, of course, personal and social identity. He has also written films and lyrics. In 1994 he won the Quebec Government’s Athanase-David Literary prize. In 1999 he was awarded the Grand Prix national des lettres by the minister of culture for France. He sent writer Roger Grenier to pick up the prize. His novel Gros Mots was published in 2000 by Gallimard. His other plays include: Le Cid maghané (Festival de Sainte-Agathe, 1968), Le marquis qui perdit (Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 1970, directed by André Brassard ), Ines Pérée et Inat Tendu (Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale, 1976). In 2001, TNM mounted an adaptation of his novel L’Hiver de force as part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebrations and subsequently toured the production to Paris.
Will Browning holds a Docorate of Modern Langauges in French and spanish from Middlebury College, and an MA in spanish from the Université de Paris. He is currently Professor at Boise State University. Browning publishes French-language reviews and articles, in addition to his translation work.
Will Browning holds a Docorate of Modern Langauges in French and Spanish from Middlebury College, and an MA in Spanish from the Université de Paris. He is currently Professor at Boise State University. Browning publishes French-language reviews and articles, in addition to his translation work.
“Forty-four years after Le nez qui voque won the Governor General’s Award for French fiction, Browning’s is the first English translation, and it is easy to see why: tackling Ducharme’s writing is a Herculean undertaking. Yet Browning aims to translate all nine of Ducharme’s novels, “thereby expanding access to his wonderful, quirky, inventive prose.” He is rendering Canadian literature a unique service by opening Ducharme’s work to Anglophone readers.”