Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

In an Iron Glove

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

In an Iron Glove

Article excerpt

C. Martin, In an Iron Glove (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2006), 366pp. Paperback. $29.95. ISBN 13: 978-0-7766-0612-5.

Martin's autobiography focuses on relationships and is an important contribution to the genre of women's autobiography. The discovery of the self is associated with the identification of the 'other' - in Martin's case, her tyrannical father. In an Iron Glove is both a personal and a collective story: the abused child grows up to be a vivacious and creative woman who represents the collective experience of the Quebec people - particularly its women - in the decades before the Quiet Revolution.

The critical edition of Martin's autobiography appeared in the Bibliothèque de Nouveau Monde: the first critical edition to appear in the collection devoted to a work by a living author. In an Iron Glove has been translated from the French by Philip Stratford. Martin's autobiography was first published in France in two volumes in 1965 and 1966. It has been widely reviewed by French critics but has attracted less attention from their English counterparts. This is a pity, as Martin's story is written with passion tempered by a deft ironic touch. It recounts numerous injustices committed against a gentle and confused child/adolescent.

The story engages the reader from the first page. The first sentence, 'I have forgiven everything,' causes the reader to wonder: what is it that requires a whole book to bring about such forgiveness? The harrowing story of Martin's upbringing, her education at a convent school, and her attempts to build a life of her own based on independence and self-respect is told without self-pity. …

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