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list price: $14.95
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
category: Drama
published: Sep 1998
ISBN:9780921870609
publisher: Ronsdale Press

Wintersleep

by Marie-Claire Blais, translated by Nigel Spencer

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4 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $14.95
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
category: Drama
published: Sep 1998
ISBN:9780921870609
publisher: Ronsdale Press
Description

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.

About the Authors
Marie-Claire Blais
Born in Quebec, Marie-Claire Blais published her first novel at the age of 20, and has gone on to publish 20 novels to date in France and Quebec?all of which have been translated into English?in addition to five plays and several collections of poetry. All of her writings have met with international acclaim. Winner of the Prix Médicis, the Prix Belgo-Canadien, the Prix France-Québec and many others, Blais continues to devote herself to work that is proud and exacting.

Linda Gaboriau
Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and ­produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a ­literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed ­numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.
Author profile page >

Marie-Claire Blais
Born in Quebec, Marie-Claire Blais published her first novel at the age of 20, and has gone on to publish 20 novels to date in France and Quebec?all of which have been translated into English?in addition to five plays and several collections of poetry. All of her writings have met with international acclaim. Winner of the Prix Médicis, the Prix Belgo-Canadien, the Prix France-Québec and many others, Blais continues to devote herself to work that is proud and exacting.

Linda Gaboriau
Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and ­produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a ­literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed ­numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.
Author profile page >
Contributor Notes

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.

Reader Reviews

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"Lyrical, elliptical musicality…"

In an excellent introduction, Nigel Spencer, the translator, contextualizes these lyrical, elliptical works...all five plays feature female voices asserting themselves in painful dialogue with male partners.  Oscillating between intimate personal detail and philosophical abstraction, between tentativeness and aggression, each play probes a different sensibility, a different tension.
The dialogue is rendered even more poignant by the accompanying musicality of Blais' long poetic lines.
Perhaps the most evocative of all is the study in contrasts, "FEVER"--a beautifully orchestrated dialogue between a wife and a husband in which she unveils his hypocrisy and her complicity against the exoticized backdrop of Morocco.
Reading these enigmatic musings set amidst highly visualized backgrounds or sets, one participates in the equivocal, tenuous relations between men and women, speech and silence, oppression and freedom.  As Blais, through the voice of her translator, so eloquently puts it: "But here I am, and he listens.  It is late.  At least, he seems to listen."
-Cathy Mezei--BOOKS IN CANADA, Summer 1999.

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