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Fiction Literary

Tale of Don L'Orignal

by (author) Antonine Maillet

translated by Barbara Godard

Publisher
Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Jul 2004
Category
Literary, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780864924193
    Publish Date
    Jul 2004
    List Price
    $16.95

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Description

Winner of the 1979 Governor General's Award for fiction, Antonine Maillet's virtuoso creation, The Tale of Don L'Orignal, is now back in print. Maillet's tale begins one day, not so very long ago but back in the youth of the world, when a hay-covered island materialized off shore, an island populated by fleas who soon took human form. The leader of this uncouth crew of have-nots, Don l'Orignal, wore a moose-antler crown as his badge of office. At his right hand were his brave lieutenants: his son, Noume, and his general, Michel-Archange. The general's wife, the doughty charwoman, spy, and rabble-rouser La Sagouine, had one finger in every pie and one raised to her neighbour, La Sainte.

The Flea Islanders were constantly at odds with the almost as clever but far more civilized upper crust of the mainland village: the mayoress, the schoolteacher, the merchant, the banker. When they invaded and tried to steal a keg of molasses, the outcome of the mock-heroic battle was unclear, except that La Sainte's son, the hapless young Citrouille, and Adeline, the merchant's lovely daughter, had fallen in love.

With the insider's accumulation of oral history, gossip, and shrewd hindsight, Antonine Maillet has conjured up a fictional Acadia that her ancestors would relish. Perhaps those who could read it would have even understood it: she wrote Don l'Orignal in a version of 16th-century domestic French that she adapted for modern readers. In this far-fetched, but always entertaining fable, Maillet holds up a mirror to Acadian history and to an all too fallible human nature.

About the authors

Born in Bouctouche, New Brunswick in 1929, Antonine Maillet is one of Canada's best-known writers both at home and abroad. The soul of contemporary Acadian literature, Maillet has been responsible for generating pride in her people through her stories depicting strong-willed Acadians. She is the author of dozens of books, including the award-winning and highly celebrated La Sagouine and The Tale of Don L'Orignal. She has also written children's books, radio and television scripts, and more than a dozen plays. Maillet was the first non-French citizen to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt for Pélagie-la-Charette. With that epic novel, she gained recognition for Acadia as she herself became more known throughout the world as a spokesperson for her people. Among her many literary prizes are the Prix France-Canada and the Governor General's Award. She is also a Companion of the Order of Canada (1982), Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Officer of the National Order of Québec, Officier des arts et des lettres and Officer des Palme's académiques in France, and Commandeur de l'Ordre du mérite culturel in Monaco. She has received honorary degrees from more than 25 universities in Canada and abroad and has served as chancellor of Université de Moncton, her alma mater.

Antonine Maillet's profile page

About the Editor: Barbara Godard is a founding co-editor of Tessera, and teaches English literature and Women's Studies at York University. She has translated a number of Quebec feminist writers including France Theoret and Nicole Brossard. She is the editor/author of several books including Gynocritics/Gynocritiques: Feminist Approaches to the Writing of Canadian and Quebec Women and Audrey Thomas: Her Life and Work.

Barbara Godard's profile page

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