I have long since stopped counting lists of the best books that I have been asked to share. It’s a fun and informative exercise, and it’s always quite divisive among amateurs who never agree with the results.
Lately, I’ve been upset (to laugh) with my colleague Mark Cassify by an absence Next Episode, By Hubert Aquin, is on our list of the best Quebec books of all time, featured in the gallery Critical mindAnd the Which unfortunately withdraws on Friday, at ARTV, when we are actually giving very little space for books on TV.
But could the list become a national educational program, as suggested by the Caquists Youth, with the idea of creating a series of core works that every student in Quebec should read upon leaving high school? I want to believe we love it, we make the lists, the association libraires du Québec hasn’t stopped offering them every day since the start of the pandemic on Facebook – including François Legault, who has stirred up controversy – but we must calm down.
The irreconcilable facts are already breaking down about this proposal: Is the school’s goal to learn French or the history of our literature, to make people love reading or knowing the classics?
We forget that the history of literature in Quebec is neither clear nor easy, as Lord Durham saw a people “without history and without literature”. My first reaction to this idea in my literary entourage was to conjure up bad memories, which didn’t surprise me, because to be honest, two or three books in Quebec that I had to read in high school almost got away from Quebec literature forever.
You’re a teenager, have a taste for Stephen King or an epic Lord of the rings ; You are off to a good start because reading really matters to you, at least, and now school is catching up to you Maria Chapdelin or Minod, driver record. You want excitement, grandeur, drama and emotion – I don’t quite know why, here thinking of Matthias Enard’s nickname, the Goncourt award Tell them about fights, kings and elephants – And suddenly you have to read the story of a guy who ended up getting caught in a hot dog situation with him Hi Gallarno!And the Written by Jack Goodboot, One of my high school’s pains, with Little, By Gabriel Roy, who managed to pack it for Edgar Allan Poe with a great tutor as part of a assignment.
Leaving the school track, from elementary to high school, without reading the Quebec book is a perversion for me, too. Does the solution pass a list of obligatory classics? Who will define it and according to what criteria?
Above all, why now? Asks David Bellanger, a lecturer in literature in the Department of Literary Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). “This idea comes out periodically. It would have been good in 1970, but in 2021, I think it’s impossible to be established,” he told me in an interview.
A group of great works, which could have succeeded if it were mentioned as soon as the Ministry of Education appeared. In the 1970s it was not controversial to say that we had a common classic set in Quebec literature, which should be revised. If there had been that, we would have accepted it today.
David Belanger is a Lecturer of Literature at UQAM
“I think it is a strange time, when we are on the borders of postmodernism, individual rights and self-expression above any collective project, to arrive at the year 2021 with the idea of” teaching the canons and the classics. ” It is the desire to return to the old thought of literature and teaching, “the lecturer continues.
This young teacher, who impressed me when I wrote about Quebec millennium literature, is publishing these days Take it out of the jarA Four-handed Essay on Contemporary Quebec Literature with Professor Michel Perron, Person who Contributed to the Reference Book History of Quebec Literature, Which I desperately await sequel.
Bélanger also offers a Quebec course at UQAM for future French language teachers. “I admit that a priori, when I saw this news, I told myself it wasn’t a bad idea. As long as we didn’t make a decision on which group, the decision would be taken differently.”
David Bellanger polls his students in his class on Thursday. Most of them were against the idea of the list and found it impossible to make children love to read with it. The argument that came out the most is: “We are not technicians, we are. [futurs] High school teachers, we have the freedom and we have to get them to develop their skills. ”My experience teaching students who sometimes don’t like literature is that they like reading, but they don’t necessarily like the idea of literature.
They tell me they have read Maria Chapdelin When they were young and they hated him. But now they are able to see the significance of that. At the age of 16 or 17, they did not understand what they were doing there, as they read the story of a good woman waiting for her bread to be cooked and seeing life lost from it. I totally understand.
David Belanger is a lecturer in the Literary Studies Department at Kuala Lumpur State University
Yet he is an advocate of Maria ChapdelinWritten by Louis Haemon, to whom he devoted an article in 2019, He’s gone away – an investigation into the death of Francois ParadisAnd the In Nota Bene. For him, it is a Quebec novel that reconciled locals and strangers in the past, even if its author, Louis Haemon, a French, “had come to die here by accident, in passing.”
The question we must ask ourselves is Roland Barthes’ wonderful sentence: Literature is what is taught. Quebec literature that we will share is what we teach. Do we want this literature to be attractive? Do we want to keep in the minds of young people that Quebec literature is interesting or do we want it to be faithful to the literary quintessence of Quebec we imagine? We, if we want to get back to our classics, we have to go back to the breadbox, and it’s hard to make that exciting. This is not bad business, it is only because we have a hard time continuing with this world, especially after the quiet revolution. If the argument was to get people to love literature, I think we would have to sacrifice a large portion of local literature. ”
But when he says that, he speaks more specifically about the books we read in high school, because according to David Pilanger, we already have a set of Quebec materials taught at CEGEPs whose merits should be praised more for their contribution to a shared culture.
Like David Bellanger, I also find timing a stranger. But I have my little idea. I think the young Caquistes are perhaps excited by the current popularity of Quebec literature (I understand them), whose vitality can only be explained because it changes the present and looks to the future, by a desire to escape from cannons and menus. You’ve probably never been closer to a soul new world From its origins.
Instead of wasting time on the list of classics that everyone will contest (this is the fate of the lists), young Caquists should put their energies on working conditions for teachers, school libraries, protect libraries from the neighborhood, and give writers the place and salary they deserve by supporting reform of laws on setting up The artist demanded by the Quebec Writers and Writers Union – in short, these are not the sites and the ideas are incomplete. These are the people who keep Quebec literature alive, much more than a must-read list.
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