study written in French under the working title: Mouches noires et feuilles
sauvages. Nouvelles lectures de l'oeuvre de Gabrielle Roy. Despite Gabrielle
Roy's status as a French-language classic in Canada, these dimensions of her
writing remain unexplored. The goal of this study is to reveal a much less
conventional view of Gabrielle Roy as writer, than current critical clichés
imply. These new readings of Roy's work will also serve to develop a multi-faceted
and open-ended reflection on reading, based on a hermeneutics of context and
inter-connection. The approach is predominantly historical and inter-textual.
The study challenges common readings of Roy's work, which insist on her traditional
approach to women's issues through the mater dolorosa mother figure;
under-value her Manitoban, autobiographically-inspired texts; downplay her engagement
with important social issues; situate her writing predominantly within a Canadian/Quebec
context; and at once overplay her devotion to her writerly vocation while circumscribing
her ambition. The complexities of her engagement with the politics of difference,
intercultural relations, sexual identity, and writing as a woman are explored.
Her writing on immigration in the Canadian West is re-read alongside the writing
of other contemporary and more recent minority and immigrant writers. Her brief
expatriate experience in England and France before World War II is compared
to that of other Canadian, Quebec, and American writers. Chapters address her
affinities with Tchekhov, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, and Proust.
The book restores Gabrielle Roy, as winner of France's Prix Fémina in 1947,
to her place within the international community of writers. Threading through
this re-assessment of Gabrielle Roy as writer, is a reflection on the reading
process, issues in the memory of reading, the inter-play between the reader
as subject and his or her reading, and the construction of a virtual, liminal,
readerly space. In this respect, the book also offers a contribution to the
study of the context of reading.