The Drama of Our Past: Major Plays from Nineteenth-Century Quebec


327 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7985-7
DDC C842'.408




Edited by Edited and translated by Leonard E. Doucette
Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is assistant director of libraries at the University of
Saskatchewan, and président de la Troupe du Jour, Regina Summer Stage.


“Although the general evolution of French-Canadian theatre in the
19th-century has been described previously in some detail,” the jacket
copy states, “the plays themselves have remained largely inaccessible
both in French and, especially in English.” This scholarly tome
contains five full-length plays and five short playlets representative
of the range of dramatic writing of the time. Editor and translator L.E.
Doucette, a professor of French at the University of Toronto and the
author of Theatre in French Canada: Laying the Foundations, 1606–1867
(1984), provides a prologue and introductions to each play that are
models of historical research and explication. The footnotes for each
piece are equally important and helpful.

“[A]t the thematic heart of all of the plays except one,” Doucette
writes, “is the original and enduring conflict between French and
English.” As a translator Doucette is careful to note and to try to
reproduce the appropriate colloquial, standard, and archaic styles found
in each text.

It seems inconceivable that the publisher has chosen not to include the
original on pages facing the translation. The absence of a firsthand
view of the French style and vocabulary makes an appreciation of nuances
impossible. This tome already graces the shelves of many research
libraries. What a pity that exclusion of the original texts prevents it
from being an authoritative volume.


“The Drama of Our Past: Major Plays from Nineteenth-Century Quebec,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,