Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

In Translation: The Gabrielle Roy-Joyce Marshall Correspondence

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

In Translation: The Gabrielle Roy-Joyce Marshall Correspondence

Article excerpt

Jane Everett (ed.), In Translation: The Gabrielle Roy-Joyce Marshall Correspondence (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 300pp. Cased. £32. ISBN 0-8020-3908-1.

From a distance, Gabrielle Roy and Joyce Marshall seem unlikely, chalk-and-cheese friends. Contemporaries in age (Roy was born in 1909 and Marshall in 1913), their cultural backgrounds and formative experiences could not have been more different. Roy came from a Catholic, French-speaking Manitoba family. Embarking on a teaching career to support them, she committed herself to a writing career only after spending time in Europe. Marshall was a member of the Protestant English-speaking élite that dominated Quebec in the early twentieth century. She knew she wanted to write after hearing a Beatrix Potter tale at the age of three. Yet, as demonstrated in this meticulously-edited collection, these two women shared much: political anxieties about the future of Quebec and Canada; complementary literary tastes; admiration for each other's fine craftsmanship; and a creative sympathy that transformed translation into a kind of artistic collaboration.

Everett's low-key, factual introduction eschews interpretation of some 200 letters written between 1959 and 1980 until Roy's ill-health made the women wholly reliant on the telephone, but this was indeed a significant friendship. When introduced, Roy and Marshall established an immediate rapport. Respect for each other's talent and a shared sensitivity to the nuances of language and prose rhythm ensured that their professional relationship was as successful and satisfying as their personal one. Marshall first translated a Roy story for a CBC broadcast, followed by The Road Past Altamont, Windflower and Enchanted Summer (which won the Canada Council Translation Prize in 1976). …

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