Wintersleep (Sommeil d'hiver) is a collection of five short plays by internationally acclaimed Quebecois author, Marie-Claire Blais. Appearing for the first time in an English translation, these plays allow anglophones to appreciate Marie-Claire Blais' range as a dramatist. The plays are known to francophones in their original publication by Les editions de la pleine lune; four of the plays have also been broadcast in French on the F.M. network of Radio Canada.
The works themselves arewritten in the form of chamber plays with the addition of elements from the ballet and recitative. Three of the plays are for two voices, one has three voices, and the other is written for 13 characters with additional voices. The plays can be produced on radio, T.V. or on stage, in each case with varying effects. Nigel Spencer's translation recreates the disturbing yet lyrical, ethereal yet gritty, effect of Marie-Claire Blais's evocative French prose.
Written with great prescience in the late '70s and early '80s, the plays have gained a sharp new resonance in the '90s. They present a shattered psychic landscape, yet one that is not lacking in hope nor in the daring and balance they demand of author, actor and director alike.
Marie-Claire Blais is a defining figure in Canada's literary landscape, with over 30 books to her credit, including Wintersleep, La Belle Bete (Mad Shadows), published when she was twenty, Une Saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel (A Season in the Life of Emmanuel), which is now taught regularly in university and college courses, and Soifs (These Festive Nights), which won the Governor General's Award in 1996.