The Temptation of Despair: A Study of the Quebec Novelist André Langevin

Description

71 pages
Contains Bibliography
$15.50
ISBN 0-919966-29-2

Publisher

Year

1982

Contributor

Marguerite Andersen is a professor of French studies at the University
of Guelph.

Review

Professor David J. Bond, who teaches French at the University of Saskatchewan, has published several scholarly articles as well as a book on André Pieyre de Mondiargues. With The Temptation of Despair, he brings forth the first study in English of the Quebec novelist André Langevin, assessing the impact of this author upon Quebec’s literature and culture.

Bond views Langevin’s novels as a document reflecting recent intellectual history in Quebec. While acknowledging the author’s debt to French existentialist writers such as Sartre, Camus, and Malraux, as well as to the nouveau roman, he analyses what is typically Canadian and Québécois in such novels as Poussière sur la ville or Evade de la nuit, published in English under the titles Dust Over the City and Orphan Street, both at McClelland and Stewart. Didn’t Margaret Atwood in Survival point out that Canadian literary heroes often die frozen? That is exactly what happens to Jean, the protagonist of Evade de la nuit, who commits suicide by lying down in the snow.

Bond acknowledges that some of Langevin’s pages are overly melodramatic, but he admires the author as one of the first, after Gabrielle Roy, to create novels that express a new French-Canadian reality. Langevin’s pessimism about Quebec culture and the fate of mankind in general, expressed in his articles and five novels, has indeed contributed to a renewal of Quebec literature. Bond’s literary analysis of Langevin’s novels is extremely thorough. The study includes summaries of the various novels, which will be useful to the anglophone reader still unacquainted with them. He points out the circular structures of the novels, a structure which aptly supports the theme of despair pervading all of Langevin’s works. In general, though, Bond’s critical stand is rather traditional.

York Press is contributing greatly to the promotion of scholarly literary criticism in Canada. Operating out of Fredericton, N.B., the publishers are to be commended for their very fine list of publications. Bond’s study will contribute to the appreciation of Quebec literature in anglophone Canada and abroad.

Citation

Bond, David J., “The Temptation of Despair: A Study of the Quebec Novelist André Langevin,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38642.