Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A History for the Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A History for the Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec

Article excerpt

Jocelyn Létourneau, A History for the Future: Rewriting Memory and Identity in Quebec, trans. Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004), xiv + 196pp. Cloth. $75 (£49.95). ISBN 0-7735-2724-9. Paper. $24.95 (£17.50). ISBN 0-7735-2725-7.

In A History for the Future Jocelyn Létourneau, Professor in the Department of History at Laval University and senior researcher in the CÉLAT, deals with historical consciousness, modes of remembering and forms of the collective narrative in Quebec and Canada. The book is a collection of recent articles originally published in Canadian, American and European journals. Their shared purpose is to examine ways of renewing the great historical narrative of Quebecers.

Létourneau urges for a balance between the rejection of the past and its total remembrance and considers that the role of historians is to encourage people to live with the memory of the past without being obliterated by its burden, that is, he locates memory in the tension between recognition and distance.

History is defined as 'the work of producing meaning that is indissociable from an ethical reflection on remembering' (p. 28), whereas the narratives of the past are conceived in terms of their contribution to the future of societies. …

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