Sunday, September 24, 2006

siecle 21 no 9

Hot off the press: a feature on both the Anglo and Francophone literatures of Canada in Siecle 21, a journal of literature out of Paris. This dossier was selected by Marilyn Hacker, Marie-Claudette Kirpalani and Florence Trocme. Translations by a variety of individuals. It's always difficult to provide a snapshot of a people's literature, particularly a bilingual one, and the less space one has the more difficult it becomes...but I doubt one can ever achieve this goal. I can't think of an anthology that I haven't found some problem with, I can't think of a feature or folio that didn't leave someone obvious out, or include work that didn't seem on par, it's just the nature of the undertaking. And yet still we must attempt to give some shape, and spread the word. The only real offense may be those who purport to be exhaustive, exclusive, representative, or worse, carve out a canon...ack, I detest that word.

In any case, the editors achieve an intriguing mix--well I can only speak for the anglophone inclusions I suppose, and at that only those I'm familiar with. They are: Francis, Giffard, Sina Queyras, Mavis Gallant, Yerra Sugarman, Joseph Boyden, George Elliott Clarke, Dionne Brand, Sheila Heti, Anne Carson, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Helen Humphreys Christopher Dewdney, David Bergen, and Peter Dale Scott.

Francophone writers include (forgive the lack of accents!): Claude Beausoleil, Denise Desautels, Nicole Brossard, Jean-Francois Beauchemin, Christiane Frenette, Jacques Rancourt, Gilles Pellerin, Helen Dorion, Nathalie Stephens, Fulvio Caccia, Louise Dupre, Sylvain Trudel.

I'm particularly happy as the issue contains an essay on Canadian literature in which I attempt to come to terms with conflicting representations in Canadian "fiction" (another word I'm beginning to detest...), as well as an excerpt from my novel in progress. The process of translation in both cases was illuminating, but the pleasure of reading some of the poets I've loved for so long in French is by far the greatest reward. The mix of new and more established voices is also refereshing.

Alas I'm not sure that this is available readily outside of France...

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