Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

'Le "Je/jeu" Intertextuel': Textual Interplay and Intertextual Identity in Roxanne Bouchard's Whisky et Paraboles

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

'Le "Je/jeu" Intertextuel': Textual Interplay and Intertextual Identity in Roxanne Bouchard's Whisky et Paraboles

Article excerpt

je te salue, silence

je ne suis pas revenu pour revenir

je suis arrivé à ce qui commence

Gaston Miron (L'Homme rapaillé, 1994)

In his article entitled 'Se souvenir d'où l'on s'en va: l'Histoire et la mémoire comme reconnaissance et distance' (2000), the Québécois historian Jocelyn Létourneau discusses the question of the construction of collective memory of the Francophone Québécois and the troubled, ambiguous relationship they still maintain with their own past; he argues that the 'Franco-québécois' remain imprisoned within the oppositional space of the dialectic past-present that does not offer any political solution nor does it allow for a reconstruction of collective memory (pp. 277-300). The main question that needs to be asked, according to Létourneau, is not whether Francophone Québécois remember their past when they affirm 'Je me souviens', but rather what past do they remember? Envisaged from this perspective, it can be said that the role of the historian in reshaping the Québécois' collective memory and identity becomes a crucial one. However, if histor y scholars and those studying history have to accept ethical and professional responsibilit y for Quebec's active reshaping of history, what role should the writer assume, if any? What past, present and future should she/he be writing? This is an important question that preoccupies the young female writer, Roxanne Bouchard. In an interview conducted with the author, Bouchard (2010) explained that the Québécois are still suffering from a problem of 'double colonisation', a condition that according to her has contributed to their difficulty in fully owning their past and reclaiming their cultural identity. Indeed, when asked whether contemporar y Québécois literature can be defined as postcolonial, Bouchard (ibid.) affirms:

Je ne pense pas qu'on puisse parler vraiment d'une littérature qui soit "post-coloniale" au sens culturel et politique du terme. On souffre toujours au Québec d'une colonisation double: celle d'une "sur-culture française" et d'une "sous-culture" américaine (depuis le mouvement de "contre-culture").1

Bouchard's reflections on the contemporary status of Québécois literature underline Létourneau's argument discussed above on the ambiguous relationship that Quebec maintains with its past, but also with its present. However, they also raise the more important question of the problematic use of the notion of postcoloniality when applied to Quebec or to Francophone Canada. Rosemar y Chapman, offering a postcolonial reading of Gabrielle Roy's work, speaks of a need to acknowledge the 'multilayered set of colonial relationships that forms the necessar y context for any discussion of the cultural products in Quebec' (2003: 46). The place of Québécois literature and histor y within postcolonial theor y has been discussed at length also by a number of Québécois specialists who have critically examined the validity of the thesis of Québécois literature's postcolonial status.2 A more in-depth analysis of this question is outside the scope of this paper. Nevertheless, it may be useful here to contextualise the conceptual difficulties researchers in the field encounter when trying to place francophone Canada within the paradigm of postcolonial studies. Indeed, a larger debate can be held about the complex relationship between Canadian literar y histor y and postcolonial theor y, as well as Canada's peripheral status in relation to both Europe and the Americas, as argued by Diana Brydon (1995) and Imre Szeman (2003). In the context of this article, I will argue that Bouchard's intertextual treatment of fictional, physical, and spiritual spaces on the paradigms of continuit y and rupture situate her text within a postcolonial discourse on rural space in Quebec, a discourse which is characterised by ambivalence. By applying a close reading combining intertextual and semiotic analysis of the text, I will show how Roxanne Bouchard uses intertextuality as a strategy which generates both identit y and space. …

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