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Feminism and the feminine in Yolande Villemaire's La vie en prose Tilley, Jane Lucinda 1989

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FEMINISM AND THE FEMININE IN YOLANDE VILLEMAIRE'S LA VIE EN PROSE By Jane Lucinda Tilley B.A., The University of Southampton, U.K., 1987 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of French) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA July 1989 © Jane L. Tilley, 1989 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, 1 agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) ii . Abstract Exposing the f a l l a c i e s of the exist ing ideo log ica l system founded upon a l i n g u i s t i c system of s ign i f i eds , recent women's wri t ing has aimed to deconstruct the numerous h ierarchies and stereotypes used against women, thus c lear ing a space for the h i therto repressed feminine and the marginal. The inc lus ion of a vast range of in ter tex tua l borrowing i n La  Vie en prose, by Yolande V i l l e m a i r e , challenges the e l i t i s t boundaries erected by the closed academic l i t e r a r y world, incorporating elements from a l l genres and leve ls . Thanks to the d i v e r s i t y and number of these borrowings. La Vie en prose refuses the sett ing up of any new hierarchy, constantly questioning any c l a s s i f i c a t i o n to the extent that the whole concept of v a l o r i s a t i o n becomes r id icu lous and i rre l evant . This v a r i e t y i s imitated on an "intratextual" l eve l as the text appears to be made up of a number of diverse texts produced by a dozen or so women wr i ter -narrators . Again, the process of classification i s thwarted as the idea i s shown to be not only p a t r i a r c h a l , but a lso a resu l t of a fundamental need or insecur i ty which apparently motivates the p a t r i a r c h a l obsession with nominisation and l a b e l l i n g . S i m i l a r l y , the deceptive nature of the discourse which expresses th i s ideology, t r a d i t i o n a l l y seen as concrete and i n f a l l i b l e , i s exposed and deconstructed. The "one word for one meaning" doctrine i s replaced by a myriad p o s s i b i l i t i e s of s i g n i f i c a t i o n and i i i language, as the text plays with the power of as soc ia t ion which constitutes the text ' s d igress ive qual i ty , explo i t ing both the phonetic and the graphic. This treatment of language represents an attempt to destroy the phal locracy through a dismantling of i t s discourse , seen as a powerful p o l i t i c a l and repressive too l . The "feminine", t r a d i t i o n a l l y seen as the ant i thes i s i s re inscr ibed i n a f l u i d and i n f i n i t e discourse which patterns the rhythms and indeterminacy .of women's jouissance. This i s re i terated i n a focus given to women's sexual i ty and to a fragmented feminine subject, considering the question of "nature versus nurture", the "maternal in s t inc t" , women"s sexual pleasure and the ir re lat ionships with men. The text refuses a l l p o s s i b i l i t i e s of h i e r a r c h i s a t i o n on the l i t e r a r y , sexual and any other l e v e l , while the "laugh of the Medusa" echoes throughout. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i - i i i Introduction 1 - 1 1 Chapter 1 12-43 Chapter 2 44-60 Conclusion 61-92 Works Consulted 93-101 1 INTRODUCTION "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, i n rather a scornful tone, "it means j u 3 t what I choose i t to mean - nothing more nor less ." "The question i 3 , " said A l i c e , "whether you can make words mean so many d i f f erent things." "The question i s , " said Humpty Dumpty, "which i3 to be master - that 's a l l . " Through the Looking-qlas3 and what A l i c e found there. Lewis C a r r o l l 3 La Vie en pro3e ha3 received considerable c r i t i c a l a t tent ion since i t s appearance i n 1980. Described var ious ly as polyvocal , p luridimensional and post-modernist,! the text has been included i n the rap id ly increasing corpus of feminist l i t e r a t u r e emanating from Quebec, placed beside the works of Nicole Brossard, Carole Masse, France Theoret and Louky Bersianik. It i s widely considered representative of 2'£criture feminine, a term launched by French feminist wri ters such as Helene Cixous and Annie Lec lerc . There are indeed many charac ter i s t i c s shared by th i s movement and La Vie en prose, but there are a lso many descrepancies which dispute not only such a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , but a lso the apparent feminism of V i l l e m a i r e ' s text. In th i s study, the re la t ionship between La  Vie en prose and trends i n women's writ ing today, w i l l be considered, i n an attempt to e s tab l i sh the extent of the feminist elements of the text i n r e l a t i o n to i t s other aspects. Although i t would seem that to prescribe the charac ter i s t i c s of 1'gcriture f&xinine i s a contradic t ion i n terms, as w i l l become apparent, i t i s necessary at th i s point to e s tab l i sh a working d e f i n i t i o n which w i l l serve as a basis for further discuss ion. What follows i s therefore not intended as an exhaustive analys i s of the s ty l e , but rather as a general background to i t s development providing a se lec t ion of c e r t a i n predominant elements which are most relevant to a study of V i l l e m a i r e ' s text. 4 It i s hardly necessary to r e c a l l that throughout the h i s tory of Western c i v i l i s a t i o n . Woman has been i n a pos i t i on of subjugation wi th in a male-dominated system; used as goods i n exchanges - the commercial and p o l i t i c i a l transact ion of marriage rendered respectable by i t s sacred epithet. Denied her freedom of choice, of movement and of thought. Woman has been created or constructed according to the current s o c i a l requirements of what she "should be" or, to quote the famous statement of Simone de Beauvoir: "On ne n a i t pas femme, on le devient."2 This describes accurately the process by which Woman i s moulded and comes to see hersel f i n the image which society, dominated by a male-orientated ideology known as phal locentrism, has created for her. The various female stereotypes of mother, v i r g i n , whore, witch, serve as neat c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s with which Woman has been branded and thereby l imited and o b j e c t i f i e d , while Man, who has the power to name and cast ro le s , i s the free subject, the One to whom Woman i3 always "Other."3 There have obviously been attacks on th i s d i s t r i b u t i o n , or rather monopoly, of power, e ither i n the form of concerted ef forts (such as the Suffragette movement at the beginning of the century or the Women'3 L ibera t ion movement of the 1960's ) or i n the prominence of ind iv idua l women (as ru lers or i n t e l l e c t u a l s ) who have managed to achieve success, by 5 explo i t ing the chinks i n the armour of phal locracy. Yet i t i s only r e l a t i v e l y recently that, instead of attempting to compete and achieve equal i ty within a masculine value system, thus being forced to deny the ir sexual di f ference or their feminini ty and to assert masculine character i s t i c s ,4 women have begun to emphasise and to take pride i n the ir "differences," u n t i l now denigrated and repressed. Of course, a few i so la ted indiv iduals such as lime de Lambert i n the eighteenth century and Chris t ine de Pisan i n the fourteenth, adopted a pos i t i ve pos i t i on regarding the moral super ior i ty of feminine values. This pos i t ion however, i s l inked prec i se ly with the conservative (and poss ib ly deceptive) ideology of equal i ty i n d i f ference , s t i l l represented by "Real Women," which the more recent wri ters , mentioned above, are attempting to eradicate. This reversal i s p a r t i c u l a r l y noticeable among the most recent French feminist theor is t s and wri ters , who focus on the development of a new language to express feminine i d e n t i t y and sexual i ty .5 For Marxists , language i s a powerful tool i n the promotion and perpetrat ion of ideology ( c a p i t a l i s t , i n th i s case) i n an ins id ious fashion: the "ruled" unconsciously imitate the language of the "rulers" while i t i s th i s very language which establishes classes and l i m i t s the ir members to the p o s i t i o n assigned them. This observation may be d i r e c t l y appl ied to the representation of women wi th in the predominant 6 ideo log ica l discourse, indeed, th i s i s a pos i t i on taken by various Marxist - feminists who 3ee women as a s o c i a l cla33 .6 For s t r u c t u r a l i s t s and deconstructioni3ts, language structures the subject and even the unconscious i3 "structured l i k e a language." Woman i s caught i n a v i c ious c i r c l e , speaking and being 3poken by a language which i s thrust upon her and which forces her into the ro le of a "ventr i loquis t ' s d o l l " speaking someone e lse 's words, and 30 a subject of the "enonc6" rather than a speaking subject or a subject of the enunc ia t ion . 7 In th i s 3ense, Woman has no "voice" within th i s discourse with which to express herse l f and her sexuality. The task, then, i s to create a new "feminine" discourse, thereby exposing the inadequacy of the present system i n i t s lack of space for "womanspeak. "8 It i s important to remember, at th is point , that th i s i s not a c a l l for a whole new language exclusive to women: indeed Genet and K l e i s t , among others, have been celebrated as wri ters of 1'^criture feminine while many of the charac ter i s t i c s of the "style" are shared by writ ings deemed post-modernist.9 It i s rather a "re-writing" or re-def ining of the ava i lab le language, although, once again, the word "definit ion" seems to have a too prec i se , aggressive sense.10 Here the influence of Derrida i3 apparent, as the ex is t ing system, ridden with b i n a r i t i e s , h ierarchies and closed 7 categories, i s deconstructed, questioning the accepted authori ty of p a t r i a r c h a l language.!! This "re-writing" commonly take3 the form of the exp lo i ta t ion of c l i ches and borrowed references taken from other texts. While the extent and range of th i s borrowing varies from text to text , i t i s perhaps nowhere as pronounced as i n La Vie en prose, where the extensive references to other texts are matched by references to the v a r i e t y of texts in terna l to La Vie en Prose. The implicat ions of i n t e r t e x t u a l i t y within women's wr i t ing today and within post-modernist l i t e r a t u r e w i l l , i n the f i r s t chapter of th is study, be considered i n r e l a t i o n to the funct ion of i n t e r t e x t u a l i t y a3 i t appears s p e c i f i c a l l y i n La Vie en Prose. A second c h a r a c t e r i s t i c owes a great deal to Jacques Lacan's re in terpre ta t ion of Freud, i n p a r t i c u l a r h i s work on hyster ics and female sexuality. French feminist wri ters such as Helene Cixous, Luce Ir igaray and Monique Wit t ig emphasize women'3 "psychosexual spec i f i c i ty" (a lbe i t i n d i f f eren t ways), thus uncovering what has been repressed. 12 Hence the c a l l by Cixous for a wr i t ing dr iven by images of the female body, focusing on gestat ion and l a c t a t i o n and the attempt to represent d i r e c t l y Woman's "jouissance" or sexual pleasure, as now understood through modern psychoanalytic theory. As "jouissance" i s not eas i ly translated into Eng l i sh , the following descr ip t ion i s he lp fu l : 8 Women's jouissance carr ie s with i t the notion of f l u i d i t y , d i f f u s i o n and duration. It i s a kind of pot la tch i n the world of orgasms, a g i v i n g , expending, dispensing of pleasure without concern about ends or closure.13 The word thus has the sense of the mul t ip le , the indef in i t e and the fragmentary, a l l of which the "style" of I'&eriture feminine attempts to convey and explo i t . The texts by these writers are remarkable i n the ir refusal of l i n e a r i t y and log i c , explo i t ing the p l u r a l i t y of meaning inherent i n language, invoking a p lay of s i g n i f i e r s rather than a chain of s ign i f i eds , thus questioning the value of language as an e f f i c i e n t communicational too l while enjoying the endless p o s s i b i l i t i e s innate and untapped within i t . S i m i l a r l y , as Woman i s seen, i n ef fect , as the ant i thes i s of the wr i t ing subject, the narrat ive perspective tends to be d i f fuse or po lyvocal , i t s point of reference endlessly elusive. L a s t l y , the re fusa l of closure which th i s treatment of language enforces i s re i terated on the l e v e l of textual d e f i n i t i o n as theory, autobiography and f i c t i o n are combined, while prose takes on a poet ic qual i ty and the various genres overlap to create a hybr id , unc las s i f iab le text. "Discontinuity" becomes c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the "feminine" text , as opposed to the l o g i c a l progression and neat conclusions of the " t r a d i t i o n a l , " while the value of such log ic and neatness i s questioned and found lacking . The re lat ionship between V i l l e m a i r e ' s treatment 9 of language, her constant d igress ions , mult iple narrat ive voices , and joy i n word play w i l l be considered i n r e l a t i o n tp th i s tentat ive descr ip t ion of feminine wr i t ing , which w i l l be expanded i n the second chapter. F i n a l l y , the theory surrounding l'gcriture f&minixe has frequently been c r i t i c i s e d for being too abstract , too academic or e l i t i s t and thus of l imi ted p o l i t i c a l effectiveness, r i sk ing rather a further repression of Woman through i t s tendency to teeter on the verge of a b i o l o g i c a l essential ism i n i t s preoccupation with the female body and apparent acceptance of the "eternal feminine." The f i n a l chapter w i l l examine V i l l e m a i r e ' 3 presentation of women who are i n effect p r a c t i t i o n e r s of th i s discourse, i n order to consider the re la t ionsh ip between the ideas espoused by the author and her narrators and the p r a c t i c a l impl icat ions of these ideas as demonstrated by the text. 10 Notes 1 See, for example, Carol ine Bayard, "Letters i n Canada, Poesie," Univers i ty of Toronto Quarter ly 50. 4 (summer 1981) 41-45. 2 Simone de Beauvoir, Le Deuxieme Sexe 2, (Paris , . Gal l imard, 1949) 13. 3 Beauvoir, "Introduction" to Le Deuxieme Sexe, 16. 4 One has only to think, for instance, of the current B r i t i s h Prime Min i s ter , frequently depicted as a cigar-3moking, p i n s t r ipe - su i t ed man, or as a tank commander, to see the s a c r i f i c e s made i n the name of success and power! 5 Key texts must include: La Jeune Nee by Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement; Ce Sexe qui n' en est pas un by Luce Ir igaray; various works by J u l i a Kr i s teva and Monigue Wit t ig . 6 C h r i s t i n e Delphy, for example, a Marxist - feminist soc io log i s t c i ted i n T o r i l Moi, Sexual/Textual P o l i t i c s :  Feminist L i t e r a r y Theory, (London S, N.Y. , Methuen, 1985); a l so Simone de Beauvoir's Le Deuxieme Sexe i s fundamentally s o c i a l i s t although the re la t ionship between Marxism and Feminism i s seen as fundamentally problematic due to the d i v e r s i t y of women's cul ture , background and education. 7 See, for example, N e l l y Furman, "The P o l i t i c s of Language; beyond the gender pr inc ip l e?" i n Making a  Difference: Feminist L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m , Green and Kahn (eds): Furman considers e spec ia l ly the well-worn language used i n the marriage ceremony. The subject of enunciation i s taken from Tzvetan Todorov, "Language and L i t e r a t u r e , " The S t r u c t u r a l i s t  Controversy: The Languages of C r i t i c i s m and the Sciences of  Man, eds. Eugenio Donato and Richard Macksey (Baltimore, Md. and London, Johns Hopkins Univers i ty Press, 1972) 125-133. 8 "Womanspeak" or "le par l er femme" i s a term launched by Luce Ir igaray i n her Ce Sexe qui n'en est pas un to describe a women's discourse which can only take place i n man'3 absence. This w i l l be reconsidered la t er i n the study. 9 Helene Cixous for example considers writ ing of Jean Genet to be inherent ly feminine; she a lso discusses the work of Lke i s t i n th i s sense, i n her La Jeune N6e. 10 My hes i ta t ion to use the word "definit ion" i n r e l a t i o n to women's wri t ing and use of language resul t s from the c l e a r l y phal logocentric connotations of d e f i n i t i o n - any attempt to define resu l t s i n an attempt to l i m i t , to contextualize or to enclose: i t i s prec i s e ly th i s closure that women's wr i t ing i s s t r i v i n g to "explode": the term w i l l 11 evidently be used throughout, hut with caution. 11 See e s p e c i a l l y Jacques Derrida Eperons: Les Styles  de Nietzsche. 12 The term "psychosexual s p e c i f i c i t y " i s used by Jones, Anne Rosalind, with reference to Cixous. 13 This useful outline appears as a note i n Elaine narks and Isabelle de Cortivan, New French Feminisms: An Anthology. See page 36, note 8. 12 Chapter 1: Intertextuality/ Intratextuality Will you, won't you, will you, won't you won't you join the dance? Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll Until recently, a text was considered to be the property and the creation of i ts author, whose supposed intentions were to be respected and whose originality was to be extolled. This however ignores the inevitable influence of preceeding works on any author affecting both the pattern of writing, and, to a certain extent, the content. Thus, according to Michel Butor: "la formule du roman habitue1 est done tout simplement une sorte de parodie. La plupart des ecrivains, le 3achant ou non, prennent des l ivres celebre3 d'autrefois et maguillent leurs rides."1 More recent texts are created with this in mind and, rather than aspiring to "originality," exploit and expose their various influences, deliberately borrowing from other sources. The works of Borges, Aquin, John Barth and other postmodern novelists, incorporate a vast range of references from a l l periods, creating the heterogeneity of levels and epochs typical of post-modernism's neo-barogue character. These practices are evident in works by recent feminist writers such as Nicole Brossard, France Th6oret and Louky Bersianik. In Yolande Villemaire's La Vie en prose, however, the practice of borrowing reaches Promethean proportions, as whole phrases, t i t les and "catchwords" are incorporated into the text, often without the slightest bibliographical reference or indication.2 At one point, for example, the narrator says: "A imaginer comme une escarboucle ou un cri3tal dans les mains d'Alice de 1'autre cote du miroir," (129) where the t i t l e of Lewis Carrol l ' s work, Throuqh the Lookinq-Gla33, i3 assimilated by the text. Later, a paragraph begins: "Cuba coule en flammes au milieu du lac Leman" (268) while elsewhere the narrator says: "j"entends quelque chose dans le fond des cho3es," (244) thus twice incorporating the opening line of Prochain Episode by Hubert Aquin. Similarly, "les bloc3 de glace erratigues" and "la neige noire" (126) refer respectively to a collection of essays and a novel by Aquin (Blocs erratigues and Neige  noire), while "la neige-neige de ce douze Janvier" is reminiscent of Emile Nelligan's "Ah! comme la neige a neige" in the poem "Soir d'hiver"3 and, a catch-phrase from Ionesco's La  Cantatrice chauve is presented, as a quotation, but with no indication of i ts source: "Yava m'a d'abord abondamment gratifiee de 'comme c'est bizarre et quelle coincidence ma chere Bobby Watson* avant de bien vouloir cesser de faire le 3phinx" (93). The f ie ld of intertextual reference does not restrict i t se l f , however, to the "literary cannon." The text borrows heavily from a l l domains, incorporating elements from cinema, television, the world of music, the Bible, mythology and publicity, to the extent that Lewis Carrol l . Aquin and Ionesco rub shoulders with Wonderwoman. Hitchcock. Edith Piaf and the Holy Virgin. Thus the text constitutes a veritable form of l i terary pop-art in which, as Lise Potvin describes i t . the various references "composent une 'Bibliotheque de Babel'. "4 In this chapter, the various effects of intertextuality wi l l be considered in reference to women's writing today and i ts various post-modernist traits , compared to the particular use of intertextuality in La Vie en prose Firs t of a l l , the idea of a text as a perfect unit, complete in it3elf and categorisable, is undermined by the inclusion of borrowed references. In each case, the referents, as Jameson describes, "are other images, another text, and the 'unity' of the [work] i s not in the text at a l l , but outside i t , in the bound unity of another book. " 5 In La Vie en prose this effect is accentuated, f i r s t by the number of citations of texts which themselves incorporate a wide intertextual reservoir (Zazie dans le metro, "Jules et Jim," Jonas and Le  Soulier de 3atin among many others), while references to works by Hubert Aquin are very frequent, especially to Trou de  m6moire, where the intertext takes the form of footnotes to various sources, some of which are completely bogus; some, by a second editor, simply cr i t i c i se previous editorial interventions, while others indicate a reference, which, while not the text actually sought, provides a clue to the required source: thus the process of referentiality is continued by the reference i tself . This i3 also demonstrated by the deliberate citation of references within other texts to yet more texts, such as the narrator's comment: "Dans le journal d'Anais Nin que je sui3 en train de l i r e , el le rapporte qu'Henry Miller parfois dort t rop . . . . El le di t que che p u 3 qui a dit (Rank peut-etre) que ' la nevrose altere le sens du repos' " (96); and elsewhere: . . . je cherche le motif de 1'enchainement du reel d'Alexandre dans la f iction de French Kiss, ce roman que Nicole Brossard a ecrit pour le3 singes comme le disait 3i bien le perspicace Reginald Martel, dans La Pre3se, en 1974. (290) Thus, in each case, referentiality is taking place on a number of levels, causing the f inal "full stop" to be continually deferred, leaving the principal text unfinished or "open" and thus fragmented.^ This deliberate repudiation of closure and unity represents another reason for the attractiveness of intertextuality to contemporary women writers. It is also a trend which takes place on a l inguistic level and wi l l therefore be discussed later in greater detail . Suffice i t to say here, that in this way, the logical causality of the "traditional" text is left behind. Logic, causality, closure and unity are traditionally seen as related to the desire for order and thu3 as inherently "masculine" constructs, while openness and the fragmentation produced by the continual rupture from the narrative thread are characterised as positive "feminine" traits .? The text is further left "open," as any reading or interpretation of i t must inevitably be influenced by the reader's cultural background and his/her recognition of, for example, the Gospel, in the film Je vous salue, Marie, or of Robinson Crusoe in Tournier's Vendredi ou les limbes du  Pacifigue. The necessity for the reader's familiarity with the reference and the process of recognition belong to what Jakobson cal ls the conative function.8 Thus, the "holes" in the reader's cultural background contribute to the openness of the text, a3, in this way, a l l readings must inevitably be different. Once again, the incorporation of intertextual references has the effect of a resistance to classif ication as the very idea of a single reading becomes ludicrous. The conative function is important, as an intertextual reference, whatever form i t may take, i3 not simply an allusion to another text or work. The reference operates in such a way that the text incorporates not only the citation or the cited text, but also a l l that may have been written about that text; i ts "kudos" or the "myth" which surrounds i t . The reference ha3 in effect already been "coded" in some or other context by c r i t i c a l response. It occupies a certain corner of the l i terary world and belongs within a particular discourse which, according to Barthes, may take any form: Le discours ecrit , mais aussi la photographie, le cinema, le reportage, le sport, les spectacles, la publicite, tout cela peut servir de support a la parole mythique.9 The referentiality of the intertext even in i ts most simple form thus works on multiple levels. F i r s t , the text which incorporates i t s reference i s already coded by various discourses; this reference, however, mu3t also have had various influences or "origins" and therefore an intertext of i t s own — whatever form this may take — and again, the intertext wi l l have a code of i ts own, and so on.10 Taking an example from La Vie en prose, the narrator(s) cite(s) Flaubert's novel Bouvard et Pecuchet on various occasions, thus in effect bringing together the two worlds or codes of La Vie en prose, a late twentieth century Quebecois novel, and a "celebrated" work by one of the "great" nineteenth century French writers: and by those simple epithets a form of the coding of each is already fa i r ly evident. Similarly Villemaire quotes from (and acknowledges her debt to) Aquin's Trou de memoire: Le Quebec serait cette poign6e de com£dienes begues et amnesiaques hantes par la platitude comme Hamlet par le spectre. Tout le monde a comme son texte sur le bout de la langue et personne n'arrive a se rappeler le premier mot de la premiere ligne de cette histoire insensee dont, faute de commencer, on ne connaitra jamais la f in. (196) Here, then, an "extra layer" of reference is added as La Vie en  prose incorporates Trou de memoire which has i tself previously incorporated Hamlet, which already ha3 an intertext of influences, predecessors and codes. Again, here, the three worlds or codes are drawn together. However, the juxtaposition of such disparate elements cannot be innocent. Such a combination is unharmonious: one has only to think, in musical terms, of the clash or discord, and the incongruity which is produced when two tunes, perfectly harmonised in themselves, are put together: a Renaissance lament and the 1812 Ouverture, for example, or Beethoven and the Sex P i s to l s . . . . It i3 this noisy union which Andre Belleau terms "le conflit des codes": conflict as the combination of two alien codes cannot be peaceful and a reaction is inevitable. The reaction produced takes the form of a Bakhtinian carnivalisation, a3 described by Belleau in his essay "Carnavalesque pa3 mort?"H Taking once again the reference to Flaubert's novel, the t i t l e , Bouvard et Pecuchet is transformed into the rather unlikely pet names of two l i t t l e g i r l s "Bip and Pola" (138), here causing a combination of "high literature" and "childspeak," while the incongruity (and indignity) of "les anges qui se prennent pour Superman" (251) i3 quite evident! In each case, the association of two levels has a dual effect: a reduction of the "elevated" and an elevation of the "lowly," causing a demythification of each of the elements (in the sense of a removal of the code). The legend of Arachne is treated in much the same way: f i r s t , the legend is reduced or demystified by i ts association with an actual spider in the narrator's room, thus rendering the mythological banal. Secondly, this Arachne is "assassinated" (176), a rather grandiose and incongruous term for the extermination of an insect, while the whole incident is related in a facetious tone which removes any mythological kudos. The narrator say3: Les nymphes venaient admirer ses tapisseries; mais la deesse, jalouse, s'etant deguisee en v i e i l l e -et je 1'imagine assez sous les traits de la matrone grise aux cheveux pris dans une res i l l e qui fait la l o i a la cafeteria Hinerve, done - mais Ovide l'appelle parfois Pallas - se faisant passer pour une v i e i l l e femme, avertit la vantarde Arachne qu' el le peut bien pretendre etre la meilleure tisseuse d'entre toutes les mortelles, mais wow les moteurs, pas question de s'imaginer l'egale d'une deessse. Arachne l u i dit de manger de la marde, la v i e i l l e se metapmorphose en Minerve et le combat commence. (173) Finally, the epithet "Arachne bionique" (277) brings together the two worlds of Ancient Greece and of the United States of the 1970's, as the wonder of Greek mythology is put into contact with a popular television show, causing each to be seen in a new way, i l lustrat ing the process of "defamiliarisation" which Nepveu describes.12 By juxtaposing such mutually alien domains, the writer creates an oxymoronic structure - by definition paradoxical and ambivalent. The two elements are closened, not in order to eliminate, but precisely to emphasize their difference: as Belleau says: "La vision carnavalesque" or the aim of such a juxtaposition as i s caused by intertextuality, "instaure prgcisement une interaction dialogique entre le3 oppositions puisqu' el le ne cesse de les rapprocher tout en les maintenant distinctes."13 This, then, i3 the effect to which the narrator is referring when she say3: "Dans la dedicace de mon exemplaire [de French Ki3s1 Nicole avait ecrit quelque chose comme ' i l est question de deux geographies a la fois 1 " (290); the two worlds are thus maintained while their combination creates a new space or an opening for a new dialogue, which, as Patrick Imbert describes i t , "marque une nouvelle vague de contestation." 1 4 In this way, the very cri teria by which the elements have been coded are questioned. The heterogeneity of the intertextual citations and references, the inclusion of everything from "Superman" to the Divine Comedy, from Van Gogh to Barbie Dolls stretches to and beyond a l l limits the criteria by which Art i tsel f is defined. The barriers that would normally exclude some of these elements and the value system on which any cultural hierarchy would be founded are themselves shifted or dismantled, bringing the marginal into the centre to s t ir up and dissolve a l l hierarchical constructs. As Frederic Jameson describes, this amounts to "the ef facement. . . of 3ome key boundaries or separations, most notably the erosion of the older distinction between high culture and so-called mean or popular culture" :15 in this way, the elitism of the patriarchal l i terary cannon and of cultural definition is challenged. La Vie en prose follows, by i t s use of intertextual borrowing, a policy or a "poetics of transformation" as the references and the text are affected by their juxtaposition. 16 At the same time a "poetics of rupture" is apparent as the text is continually interrupted, i t s narrative level fluctuating due to the inclusion of so many disparate elements. The referent and the text are thus liberated from their code and are opened to new interpretation, as cloistered images are reanimated, even resurrected. The subversive nature of the practice is apparent. The effect, a3 Jameson describes, "is of a restructuration of a certain number of elements already given; features that in an earlier period or system were subordinate now become dominant and features that had been dominant become secondary. "17 Here also the attraction of the practice to women writers is evident, as the dominant value system, the patriarchal hierarchical system responsible for the discourse in which the referents are coded, is subverted by the recontextualisation of certain references, calling attention not only to their appearance within that new context, but al30 to that value system which had attempted previously to fix and label them. The tendency of this process, evidently, is to set up a dichotomy between the old and the new and in effect, to construct a new hierarchy by a reversal or inversion of the old. Kamouraska, by Anne Hebert, provides an example in which the romantic novel of the nineteenth century is "recycled" in a text written in 1970.13 Similarly, M. Melville, by Yictor-Levy Beaulieu is a rewriting of Melville's Moby Dick, while Je vous  salue, Marie, the fi lm by Jean-Luc Godard or Deny3 Arcand's Jesu3 de Montreal, are based on the Gospel. This technique is also practised in La Vie en prose with parodic effect, a3 the writer/narrators imitate various styles, texts and phrases from other works. The circular dialogue from En attendant Godot, for example, appears in an altered state as the "characters" X and Y pass the time: Y: Qu'e3t-ce qu"on attend? Godot? X: Peut-etre. y: Est-ce l u i qu'on entend? X: Peut-etre. Godot n'est qu'une dame en rose dans un fiacre. (39) Later, the narrator discusses her writing: "C'est pas du vraiment vrai . Pourtant ces choses se sont pa3see3. Quand j 'ecr is que c'est pas du vraiment vrai , je mens a moitie" (50), again a passage very reminiscent of Beckett's writing. Similarly the "typical" detective novel, complete with mistaken identity and coincidences, is presented a3 a novel written by one of the narrators at an earlier stage: C'est une histoire de jumeaux - un gars et une f i l l e - qui, par jeu, se substituent l 'un a 1'autre en echangeant leurs vetements le jour de 1' init iat ion pour la rentree des classes. L'un des deux, on ne sait pas trop lequel, est tue et le coupable est un prof de judo qui a profite de 1' i l lusion temporelle en prenant 1'avion pour Val d'Or en. passant par Ottawa ou i l a fait une escale-a l i b i avant de revenir par un autre avion qui at terr i t a Dorval au moment meme ou i l pretend s"etre trouve dans le Nord-Ouest ou i l ne connait malheureusement personne qui pourrait corroborer son temoignage. (95-6) The number of coincidences and subordinate clauses - the whiles, wheres and whos - is exaggerated, thus challenging a whole genre of texts by exposing and exploiting i ts idiosyncracies to ridiculous proportions. Through this process, the "original" text (or text3) is reduced to the level of a stereotype - easily recognizable, even over-familiar, now rendered in some way comic or at least imperfect by the 3imple (ab-)use received at the hands of the text. In contrast, the text (the parodist) i3 elevated. There is , therefore, a danger that, rather than breaking dowi a fixed system, "...cette dichotomisation....securise, car elle est l'expression d'un pouvoir, celui du parodieur qui a 1'esprit critique et le bon 3ens avec l u i " : 1 9 thus one system is exchanged for another, setting up a new hierarchy in which the text is superior to i ts intertext. However, the instances of 3uch imitation are so frequent and so diverse that La Vie en prose does not simply present two opposing systems to be reversed: rather i t offers a whole series of systems which, by their mutual contact and the effects of rupture and transformation which this contact produces, reverse and reverse again in an endless osci l lation or dialogue in which no.stagnant hierarchy is possible. In the same way. La Vie en prose, along with texts by Ducharme and Poupart among others, plays with citations from other texts, not just quoting but distorting the quotation. The opening line from Prochain Episode, for example, "Cuba coule en flammes au milieu du lac Leman, pendant que je descends au fond des choses," here appears as: Cuba coule en flammes au milieu du lac Leman pendant que je me rappelle le prochain episode en pleurant dans la cage de fer gris d'un wagon-lit qui f i l e vers Kurchatov. (268)20 Elsewhere, various t i t l es are taken and altered: A Kidsummer  Night's Dream becomes "Le Cauchemar d'une nuit d'avril" (253); meanwhile Alice in Wonderland is transformed into the antithetical "Alice au pays des hostilites" (289). Similarly, within the chapter heading "Ton nom de Los Angeles dans mon reel desert," for example, the novel by Marguerite Dura3, Son  nom de Venise dans Calcutta desert is easily recognizable as the referent. This t i t l e appears on several occasions in i ts various transformed states: "Ton nom de Gabriel Archange dans Aurel desert" (122) and "Ton nom de St. Germain-des-Pres dans Aurel desert" (84), both of which maintain precisely the paradigm of the original; later i t appears f i rs t in a truncated form: "Laure-de-son-nom-d1Aurel" (261) where the structure is s t i l l familiar, thanks to the name attached to a location, and f inal ly in an extended form as "je commence par faire mes devotions aux relique3 de Fel ic i te Angers sur un air disco dans le musee de Laure Conan desert" (264), while again the juxtaposition of religion and popular music is apparent ading to the process of rupture. Thus, while the resemblances are apparent enough for the "enonc6" to be recognized, what Riffaterre would c a l l the "stylistic function" of the new version assures that the difference or a l ter i ty i3 striking.21 The effects of 3uch recycling and distortion in La Vie  en prose are multiple. In the f i r s t instance, the text, which draws 30 heavily and so blatantly from other texts, exposes the background of culture, what Imbert call3 "le texte public" or "le baggage culturel,"22 treating i t as "common land": thus the text advertises by i ts exaggeration, the process of borrowing and recycling which necessarily takes place in any text, as Barthes describes in his essay "The Death of the Author. "23 By i ts openness and frequency, this practice and the idea of the poss ibi l i ty of originality are both parodied, a3 the process reaches the point where i t is no longer clear whether this is "la mimesis de 1'ecriture ou l 'ecri ture de la mimesis."24 At the same time, the appropriation and ab-u3e of the various citations ( i . e . , their distortion and disorientation within a new context) undermines the authority of the author of the "original" text or the intertext. Thus, not only is the sanctity of the referent i tself demystified, but also that of the "Author" as the transcendental signified, the proprietor of the text, a model imbued with hegemony or with the concepts of paternity and of hierarchies. Here, in contrast, "le sujet eiionciateur [est elimine] sous un dialogue de textes sans origine."25 The practice of intertextual borrowing in feminist writing represents a desire to recycle and to reappropriate the cultural background and control which have been traditionally a masculine prerogative or, as Patricia Smart describes: "une tentative de reapproprier le fond de 1'experience 3elon les terme3 d'une economie au feminin." This relates to Cixous' ca l l to women to rewrite history, allowing themselves the place they have been denied.26 The attempt to "feminize" art or culture is further emphasized by the vast number of references to women authors, singers and fictional characters; from Laure Conan to Jul ia Kristeva, Edith Piaf to Carla Bley and Wonderwoman to Anna Karenina (along with a l l the feminine characters of La Vie en prose) as a va3t reservoir of marginal figures are given their share of the limelight. The recycling process also demonstrates how any movement or attempt to change a system is engrained with elements and effects from that system. In this way, the idea of the creation of a "new" system (or a new culture, as in this case) is questioned. What Villemaire's text presents instead, by i ts flagrant borrowing, is a "counter culture," which, although in opposition to the existing system, cannot be set up as a "binary opposite," thus preventing the two from being simply reversed. The relationship between the two is that of same/other, resemblance/difference,27 where the Villemairien counter-culture occupies both poles of each coupling simultaneously. Here, the deconstructive nature of Villemaire's text is evident: the process of bringing disparate elements together, not to eradicate their difference but to emphasize i t , resulting in a form of Yerfremdungseffekt or alienation technique. In Derridian terms the process belongs to "1'operation feminine," a3 the distance created by the juxtaposition is i tself the "feminine," the familiarity and a l ter i ty of the citation, two incompatible notions are recognized at the same time. Again, in Derridian terms, there is a third element in the couple and this element is both and neither familiarity and al ter i ty . both and neither resemblance and difference.28 Villemaire's narrator describes this as she observes that "la distinction n'existe pas Si elle n'existe pas, elle existe pourtant simultanement." (94) Once again, the relationship between text and intertext is presented as dialogic: both elements are active, neither dominant, neither fixed. Within the context of La Vie en  prose, where does the dominance l i e in the couple Arachne and the Bionic Woman? Or, how i3 the hierarchy balanced in the couple Erica Jong and Virgina Woolf? Leonard Cohen and Eric Satie? and so on. In this way, the hierarchisation, so prevalent within the phallogocentric system, is exposed as misguided and partisan, while classifications and categorisations are exposed in the fluorescent light of a r t i f i c i a l i t y . Once again, this process knows no bounds: the positively baroque excess of borrowing which takes place in La Vie en prose suggests that not only is the text "laughing at" the "traditional" text, covetous of originality, logic and l inearity, but also at those (feminist or other) texts which, by their own parodism or exploitation of other texts, attempt to subvert those text3 while setting themselves up a3 in some way superior. Thus, the U3e of intertextuality in recent texts i s shown to be as much guilty of "stylistic mannerism," "excessiveness" and "eccentricity," in Jameson's terms, a3 the very texts that are intertextualised and parodied for their own particular s ty l i s t i c traits or coding. 2 9 The "parody of parodists/pastiche of pa3ticheurs" is demonstrated by the "internal intertext" or the "intratext" which imitates the process of borrowing from other texts by a p a r a l l e l system of borrowing among the texts which apparently constitute La Vie en prose (although the layers of referentiality are perhaps not so multiple). The (supposed) author of these texts - based on the members of Villemaire's "Rrose Selavy" workshop - meet periodically to discuss each other's manuscripts.30 The text i3 thus immediately scattered with references to the various works: i t opens with a meeting to discu33 "Noemie Artaud's" latest manuscript, while later the final passage of her text i3 quoted, presumably by another author in another text (96-7). The film Pink Lady, Blanche's work, crops up sporadically throughout the text, from the incipit onward, but i t i3 not unti l the f inal section, "Vol de nuit." that the narrators/characters actually see the film (333 et seguitur). while references to the film are paralleled by references to "la dame en rose" and by the nick-name Bryan gives to one or more of the narrators, "Pink Lady Ro3e. " Elsewhere the narrators prepare to read another manuscript, "Le Livre-Sphinx" by Gloria Ol ivett i (140) which is later included in the text, constituting a large central portion. La Vie en  prose is likewise a text within the text, while it3 author/narrator comments on the intertextual s imilarit ies between i t and "Le Livre-Sphinx" which her "fute3 lecteurs" wi l l doubtless have noticed (207). The intratextual references also take the form of quotations and repetition, contributing greatly to the auto-refer ential i ty of the text. The phrase "une h i 3 t o i r e peuplee de bonnes et braves heroines," which appears in five different forms early in the text (25-6), reappears much later a3 the narrator talks of "ce labyrinthe infernal de braves et bonnes heroines enchain£es ju3qu'au vertige." (257) Similarly, the May Day ca l l (280) recalls the section "Jour de Mai" where the translation (though i t is impossible to say which is the "original") gives the citation a different sense, thus distorting the phrase just as La Vie en prose distorts extracts from texts external to itself . Elsewhere one narrator writes that "le roman.... devrait commencer sous le so le i l exactement" (105) while the section is indeed entitled "Preci3 d'energie 3olaire."31 Final ly , the phrase "l'aube se leve au-dessus des Sourdes-Muettes" appears at least four times, eventually attributed to it3 "original" author: "l'aube se leve au-dessus des Sourdes-Muettes comme dan3 le roman de Solange" (346; also 172, 320, 323).32 By thus imitating the intertextuality so extensive within the text and so popular with contemporary writers, Villemaire's text undermines, or at least questions through parody, the val idi ty and effects of the process. Having shown how the text can remain open, thanks to the conative function of parody ( i . e . , the dependence on the recognition or non-recognition of each citation and the inf inite number of possible readings which this fluctuation may produce), Villemaire's text demonstrates the other side of the coin. The intratext shows how this very function tend3 towards elitism by the inclusion of so many l i t t l e known references, many of which would be totally unfamiliar outside a specific group. In La  Vie en pro3e i tse l f , the number of "in-jokes" at the expense of l i terary theory, for example, would be passsed over by a va3t number of readers, while a non-Quebecois reader is also at a "disadvantage" due to the myriad references to the l i terary institution, corpus and traditions of Quebec. This tendency is pushed to extremes as the narrators, a small c ircle of fringe writers and artist3, quote and recycle one another's work: what reader outside thi3 c irc le , reading their texts in isolation, would be able to identify and appreciate the almost incestuous intertextual borrowing which takes place among these writer-narrators? The text thus demonstrates how such borrowing is , paradoxically, in danger of creating a closed c ircle — and indeed La Vie en prose i tsel f has been accused of being a book written for writers^ — as the group of writers create their cultural space within their own discourse or code. This tendency towards privatization, while contributing to the fragmentation and heterogeneity of modern literature, 3macks of elitism and cliqui3hnes3 - such as the privatization of language also demonstrated by the coded letters Rael send3 to Nane (313) and elsewhere as the narrator and X talk in their "langage code." (187)34 The conscientious reader who attempts to identify the various citations and to attribute them to their appropriate source also finds him/herself being quietly laughed at as he/she turns his/her attention to the intratext (the phrase "being led on a wild goose chase" springs to mind!). At the beginning of the text, "Noemie Artaud's" manuscript is examined by another writer who, by a study of the writing, attempts to identify the author behind the pseudonym "Noemie": C'est seulement a la f in que je me suis rendu compte que ca se passait sur la lune.. . .Pour moi, c'e3t Rose qui a ecrit cela, ca l u i ressemble!.... C'e3t curieux, en tout cas parce que cette histoire, s i on excepte le cote "lunatique" qui me fait l 'attribuer a Rose, ressemble beaucoup a ce qui est arrive a Solange... au point que je 3uis en train de me demander s i ce n'est pas Solange elle-meme qui se cache derriere cette Noemie.(77-8) A reasonable piece of anlaysis, apparently; however, this is later undermined as "Noemie" would appear to be another name for Vava: Noemie rougit, elle dit que dan3 son prochain roman, el le promet de ne pas ut i l i ser nos vrais noms. On va3-tu le publier sous "ton nom de plume" celui- la ou bien s i on va ecrire Eva-Yera Indianopolis tout au long. (113-4) (this being Yava's f u l l "day to day" pseudonym or nick-name, her "real name" apparently being Dionne Lepage). This is doubly ironic, as i t is Yava herself who was trying to identify the text! Similarly, any attempt to identify the "attthor" of the texts in which the narrator is awaiting a letter i s thwarted, as finally one of them admits: soiange attend une lettre....Hane, elle en ecrit. D'autre3 aussi attendent des lettres Noelle, en Haute Provence, Laure de son nom d'Aurel, attend dix-neuf jours une lettre de Djinny. Djinny, a moi, n'a jamais ecrit. (302) The various incidences which 3eem to refer to the same circumstances and therefore to the same author and narrat.or are thus fragmented and indistinguishable. Later, the reaction Soiange receives on reading an extract from her latest text reinforces this confusion: Lotte dit: c'est drole,ca me f a i t penser a la piece que je suis en train d'ecrire. C'est tres different, mais au fond c'est la meme chose.... Nane dit: ouais, c'est drole, moi aussi je trouve pa. Et Rose et Yava. (265) This would seem to be a warning to the reader that distinction between the texts i s impossible while also commenting once more on the inevitable influence of other writings or writers and questioning the concept of originality. Finally, the reader is given a clue which helps just enough to send him/her back to the beginning to try again: .. .tout le roman m'est apparu comme l'histoire de la passion de Nane Yelle pour Rael, personnage enigmatique qui, dans la vie reelle s'appelle Real et dont elle vient aujourd'hui de recevoir une lettre. Quand Carl me demande s i c'est moi Nane, je dis que bien 3ur que non. Que moi c'est Noelle. II d i t que oui, mais que c|est pas mon vrai nom ca, Noelle. Je dis que bien sur que non, que personne n'ose s'appeler par son vrai nom... II d i t que oui, mais qu ' i l sait, que je m'appelle Yava, q u ' i l y a une vrai Noelle et que ce n'est pas moi. Je dis que Noelle n'est pas plus Noelle que moi, que ce n* est pas plus son vrai nom a el le que Yava n'est mon vrai nom a moi . . . . (310) thereby revealing the various layers of shared pseudonyms behind which the authors hide themselves, which is further complicated by the use of the same names for their characters. Thus "Le Livre-Sphinx," which is attributed to Nane (141) but uses her name for a character, later would seem to be written by Soiange, writing an autobiographical text, as she says: "Ha passion pour Rael, passion que j ' a i attribuee a Nane pour me fac i l i t er les choses, m'aura du moins permis d'en arriver a avouer cela." (352) The section "On y danse tout en rond" is attributed to Noelle (329); yet, as shown above, Noelle may be another name for Yava, or the pseudonym of one of the other narrators. In this way, the narrators/writers seem to "cancel each other out" unt i l , under the wealth of names, there remains just one, or perhaps two - Yava and/or Soiange: the significance of this process from a narrative perspective and subject position w i l l be considered at a later stage.35 Through the use of the intratext, the reader is constantly thwarted in his or her efforts to identify the text and i t s author and is therefore unable to "furnish the text with i ts f inal signified";36 thus the text i s left open, while the desire to regulate, to order, to complete i s shown to be comic or pointless. Instead, the reader i3 drawn into the game, encouraged to search by the number of puzzles and red herrings deliberately set up by the text, constituting i ts ludic, playful nature. This quality is also evident in the anarchic use of intertextual borrowing, in which the effects of conflict, rupture, transformation and difference each act as a catalyst for the others: nothing in La Vie en prose can remain unaffected. The total and constant disintegration of systems which this provokes i s , as Pierre Nepveu claims, verging on the apocalyptic, "3tyle Chamberland" (another recurrent reference in Villemaire' s text) whose montages of song lyr ics , handwritten poetry, newpaper clippings, photographs and i l lustrations paral le l Villemaire's exhaustive patchwork.3? However, despite the inevitable inference of "la vie en rose" which makes i t s presence felt throughout, from the t i t l e onwards. La Vie en prose doe3 not offer the assurance of the golden age or utopia and general salvation which is promised in Chamberland'3 later works. This state i s searched for, perhaps wished for, as the narrator says: "Comme les gnostiques de Princeton qui pratiquent le montage posit i f , je veux voir la vie en rose et croire aux utopies de Chamberland." (197) Yet i t is also 3een to be unreal or a r t i f i c i a l , as she talks of the day when "l'opticien reparait mes lunettes roses que j'avais brisees dans un moment de decouragement" (197), as well as a temporary state of b l i ss , the c l i ch£d colour of love and romance: "C'est toujours avec toi que je danse la vie en rose" (227). Nevertheless, although a utopic vision is questioned, a dystopia i s in no way set up in i ts place: Ce n'est peut-etre qu'une danse de la vie en noir en rose.. . Mais c'est tellement evident le noir, que ca serait cyclope de ne voir que ca. N'ouvrir que le bon oei l serait tout aussi bete. Alors je louche. Et s'ouvrir alors, parfois, le troisieme." (197) Once again, the two extremes of perception, total optimism against total pessimism, are both seen as short-sighted, while the narrator prefers to "squint" - here a figurative expression of the sideways shift of the deconstructive "process"; "le mouvement oblique" which Derrida talks of 38 - thus allowing a third, alternative vision which includes and rejects both extremes simultaneously. The result i3 a f inal refusal of the possibi l i ty of an inversion of values or perception, which ultimately is nothing but the exchange of one atrophizing system for another (phallogocentrism for hysterologocentrism, perhaps). This is not, evidently, a simple avoidance of the question, rather an answer which forces continual questioning, leading the reader on a proverbial merry dance throughout the text: the "belle sarabande baroque" which Lise Potvin describes,^ thus, f inal ly , causing the text to exude energy. La Vie en prose does not, then, concern itself with arrivals , i t is not the gra i l but the never-ending guest which is important; as Suzanne Lamy perceives: . . . .pour la dame en rose, pour Yava, pour Rose, Soiange ou Nane, 1'important n'est pas [d'aller quelgue part et de savoir comment y aller] mais d'aller tout simplement.40 To conclude brief ly , the multiple effects of intertextuality render i t attractive to feminist and post-modernist writers alike: i ts carnivalisation, the rupture and transformation that i t causes, the conflict of codes and the dismantling of barriers and classifications, undermine and subvert the patriarchal or phallogocentric systems which evaluate and hierarchise i ts various elements. La Vie en prose takes the process to extremes, refusing to allow a new system to erect i tself as a result of the subversion i t causes, parodying instead, by i t s intratext, even those texts which might well be considered in the same genre, but which, perhaps inadvertantly, by their l i terary techniques and borrowings, tend to be exclusive and e l i t i s t and risk replacing one hierarchy by another. La Vie en prose renders the concept of hierarchy and the desire to hierarchise, ridiculous and impossible, offering instead a constant process of recycling and renewal, of dismantling and rebuilding. This demonstrates the creative emphasis and unbounded energy which ride on the humour inherent within the text, while this energy and movement are evident al30 in the language and structure of La Vie en  prose, as w i l l be shown in the next chapter. The text refuses a l l "closure," thus endorsing the multiple subversive effects of i ts intertextuality. Notes 1 Michel Butor, Repertoire III page 9, quoted also in Patrick Imbert, Roman quebecois contemporain et cliches Cahiers du CRCCF, 21, (Ottawa: Editions de l'Universite d'Ottawa, 1983). 2 References throughout the text to Yolande Villemaire's Le, Vie en prose are to the second edition. Col l . Typo 2 (Montreal: Les Herbes Rouges, 1984). 3 Emile Nelligan in Poemes choisis. Chronologie, bibliographe et jugement3 critiques de Roger Chamberland. Bibliotheque quebecoise. (Montreal, Fides, 1980). 4 Lise Potvin, "L'Ourobouros est un serpent qui se mord la queue x 2," Voix et Images 33 (printemps 1986): 407. 5 Frederic Jameson, "Post-modernism and Consumer Society," The Anti-Aesthetic F a l l 1982, 123. 6 Also mentioned in Janet M. Paterson, "A Poetics of Transformation: Yolande Villemaire's La Vie en prose." in A Mazing Space: Writing Canadian Women Writing, Shirley Neuman and Smaro Kamboureli (eds) (Edmonton, Long3poon/Newest, 1986). 7 The words "masculine" and "feminine" are not used here in terms of "male" and "female", i . e . , in term3 of biological gender, but rather as specific subject positions - a central concept which w i l l as such be considered in detai l at a later stage. 8 Roman Jakobson, in his essay "Linguistics and Poetics," Essays on the language of Literature. Ed3 Seymour Chapman Samuel V. Levin (Boston, Houghton Mif f l in Co. , 1967) 295-322, as quoted in Imbert, Roman gueb6coi3 141. 9 Taken from "Le Mythe aujourd'hui" by Roland Barthes, in Mythologies. Co l l . Points (Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1970) 199. 10 The word "code" is used here in Andre Belleau's term3, as in his essay "Le Conflit des codes dans 1'institution l i t teraire quebecoise" in Surprendre les voix (Montreal, Boreal, 1986) 167-74. 11 Belleau, in Surprendre les voix, 193-202. 12 Pierre Nepveu, "L'energie des formes" in L'ecologie du  reel (Montreal, Boreal, 1988) 170. 1 3 See Andre Belleau, "Carnavalisation et roman quebecois: iaise au point sur 1'usage d'un concept de Bakhtine" in Etudes  francaises 19.3 (hiver 83-4) 58. 14 imbert, Roman quebecois. 113. 15 Jameson, 112. 16 Paterson, especially 322-3. l ? Jameson, 123. 18 The term "recyclage" was launched by Guy Scarpetta in his work on Post-modernism: L'Impurete, Col l . Figures (Paris, Bernard Grasset, 1985). 19 Patrick Imbert, "Parodie et parodie au second degre dans le roman quebecois moderne" Etudes l i t teraires 19 (printemps-ete 1986) 39. 20 Hubert Aquin, Prochain Episode, Montreal: Cercle du Livre de France, 1984. 21 See Michel Riffaterre, Essais de stylistigue strucurale:  presentation et traductions de Daniel Delas, Nouvelle bibliotheque scientifique, dirigee par Fernand Braudel, (Paris: Flammarion, 1971) 145. 22 Imbert, Roman quebecois, 130. 23 See Roland Barthes, Image. Music. Text. 24 imbert, "Parodie", 44. 25 Imbert, "Parodie", 41-2. 26 See both Patricia Smart, "Prometheus au feminin: l 'ecriture d'une nouvelle generation de femmes." Voix et Images 34 (automne 1986) 145-50; and Helene Cixous, "Le Rire de Meduse" Arc 61 (1975) 39-54. 27 Imbert, Roman guebecois 141; also in Paterson, 320. 28 See Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche's Stvles/Eperons:  Les Styles de Nietzsche bilingual edition, translated by Barbara Harlow (Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1979) especially pages 48-54, 80 etc. 29 Jameson, 114. 3 0 In Lucie Robert, Entrevue avec Yolande Yillemaire" Voix  et Images 33 (printemps 1986) 400. 31 Potvin, 416. 32 There are also a number of references to Villemaire's own works: the "roman policier" mentioned as an earlier text by one of the narrators has a t i t l e close enough to Meurtres a  Blanc to recall Villemaire's text, while the phrase "le temps se fait nuageux avec periodes e n s o l e i l l e e 3 ou ensoleille avec periodes nuageuses" (105) is recycled in her short text "Du Cote hieroglyphe de ce qu'on appelle le reel," as "ces nebulosit6s variables d'ensoleillements avec periodes nuageuses et d'ennuagement avec periodes ensoleillees," while the references to the time when Nane, Ro3e and Maud worked for Belle Canada is developed in a later radio play. Belles de  nuit. 33 For example, Claude Sabourin, "Le Cote centripete de ce qu'on appelle l 'ecriture: proses et poesies villemairiennes, d'un texte a 1"autre," Voix et Images 33 (printemps 1986)437: "Qui parle chez Villemaire? . . . L'e l i te . D'ou parle-t-on? De haut, de loin, dans un regard en plong6e." 34 Jameson, 114. 35 Once again, the excessive use of a particular technique results in an effect al ien, even opposite, to that for which i t was "intended". Here, the pseudonym, which traditionally hides and mythifies identity, has the effect of evacuating identity. 36 Barthes in "Death of the Author". 37 Nepveu, 160. 38 Derrida, 116. 39 Potvin, 407. 40 Suzanne Lamy, "Subversion en rose" in Feminite,  Subversion, ficriture, textes reunis et presentes par Suzanne Lamy et Irene Pages (Montreal, Editions du Remue-menage, 1983) 108. 44 Chapter 2: Textuality 45 Les mots ne nous apprennent que des mots. Saint Augustin C'est de toute beaute de vo i r l a dan3e de quelqu'un qui aime a. ce point le langage. La Vie en prose 46 The p o l i t i c a l s igni f icance and potent ia l of language have long been recognized. In Marxist terms, for example, language i s seen as one of the major means by which the State apparatusses - the explo i ta t ive governing forces of soc iety -f u n c t i o n 1 Language, or discourse, codes and labels objects, concepts and people, thu3 "fixing" them i n a way which creates and perpetrates around them repressive myths. Recent feminist texts examine th i s phenomenon, focussing as one would expect on the representation and treatment of women within the predominant ideo log i ca l discourse of Western society - namely, that of phallogocentrism. The phal logocentric discourse i s constructed around the Phal lus: the word i3 not, here, synonymous for penis , but rather, used i n Lacanian terms to s ign i fy such concepts as paterni ty , property and the h ierarchies or succession which these e n t a i l , as wel l as the 3ingle or uni tary and un i f i ed . I t a lso turns on the concept of the "Logos," the word as "transcendental s i g n i f i e d , " a uni t complete i n i t s e l f with a s ingle , incontestable and essent ia l meaning. The proximity of th i s system to the P la tonic system of absolute and universa l truths , i3 apparent. However, for th i s system to succeed, answers must be found and absolutes e i ther discovered or created i n order that the actual absence of such absolutes need not be recognized. 47 Thus the expedient repression of doubt and questioning must inev i tab ly take place to quash anything that might threaten the "laws" or "truths" of the Phallus In th i s way, any troubling element - which i n Derr id ian terms i s "feminine" - i s forced to the margins of the system, leaving what i s , i r o n i c a l l y , a "castrated" truth.2 The closed and f i n i t e system expresses i t s e l f i n a s i m i l a r l y closed discourse, which does not question, but rather vaunts the prec i s ion of i t s inherent and communicative values. Within th i s discourse. Woman's "place," her role and her voice, are prescribed for her. It forms and shapes her, moulding her into the image i t has already reserved and created for her, thereby forcing her into those s tereotyp ica l roles t r a d i t i o n a l l y a l l o t t e d to Womankind: thus Woman's "femininity" - that which makes her a woman, or her di f ference - i s repressed, as there i s no place for i t wi th in the phal logocentric discourse. Women are thus born into an exis t ing l i n g u i s t i c order, within which they have no voice , speaking l ine s from someone else's dialogue, as H61ene Cixous describes i t : "Everything turns on the Word: everything i s i n the Word. . . . we must take culture at i t s Word as i t takes us into i t s word, into i t s tongue. . . . as soon as we ex i s t , we are born into language and language speaks (to) us, d ic ta tes i t s law, a law of death. "3 Language i s a powerful tool or a powerful weapon; indeed, to quote Cixous once more: "No 48 p o l i t i c a l r e f l e c t i o n can dispense with language, with work or language. "4 The wri ters who today may be labe l l ed as belonging to the group who espouse 1'£criture feminine, work prec i se ly from th i s view point , attempting to reintegrate into language whatever the phal logocentric discourse ha3 systematical ly repressed. In thi3 way, such wri ters a3 Cixous, Ir igaray and K r i s t e v a , among others, create a new discourse, reanimating those elements which have been f ixed or l abe l l ed , while reworking the ir own woman's i d e n t i t y within that discourse. Thus the values inherent within phallogocentrism are rejected and replaced by a writ ing based on what Cixous terms a "feminine l i b i d i n a l economy. " This wri t ing aims to express woman's psychosexual s p e c i f i c i t y , while set t ing i n reverse, i n ef fect , the centr i fuga l force which has pushed the feminine to the margins i n the name of "order" and "neatness. " The goal , then, i s to deconstruct the phal logocentr ic ideology by dismantling i t s discourse, permitt ing the creat ion of a new space for Woman's voice and words, allowing her to write and rewrite cont inua l ly her own s c r i p t and f i n a l l y , to create her own i d e n t i t y thorough a 3tyle and language which formulate and express i t . L'gcriture feminine bases i t 3 e l f upon women's sexual i ty: the female sex organs are set i n opposit ion to the male 4 9 phal lus , the f igure of "glorious monosexuality" g iv ing way to the sense of the mult ip le as opposed to the unitary.5 This idea i s represented i n Luce Ir igaray '3 punning t i t l e "Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un." where f i r s t the denegration of feminine sexual i ty i s announced ( i . e . . the denia l of woman's sexual i ty as legit imate and of her a b i l i t y and/or r ight to experience sexual pleasure) and secondly, th i s very concept i s undermined by the ambiguity of the t i t l e , since the idea of the sex as "not one" but as "more than one" i s a lso expressed. Ir igaray goes on to say: la femme "se touche" tout le temps sans que l ' o n pui3se d ' a i l l e u r s l e l u i i n t e r d i r e , car son 3exe est f a i t de deux levres qui s'embrassent continument. A i n s i , en e l l e . e l l e est dSja deux -mais non d i v i 3 i b l e 3 en un(e)s - qui s"affectent.6 Elsewhere she says: La femme a des sexes un pen par tout. E l l e j o u i t d'un peu partout. Sans meme par ler de tout son corps, l a geographie de son p l a i s i r est bien plus d i v e r s i f i e , mult ip le dans ses d i f ference , complexe, subt i le qu'on ne 1' imagine. 7 The m u l t i p l i c i t y and indeterminabi l i ty which th i s conception implies are ref lected i n the writ ings loosely termed examples of 1'gcriture feminine. This chapter w i l l examine the way i n which Y i l l e m a i r e '3 text treats both the masculine discourse and ideology and the feminine, i n terms of the aim3 and 3tyle of I'&criture feminine. 50 From, i t s very t i t l e . La Vie en prose s ignals a study of the re la t ionship between l i f e and a r t , f i c t i o n and "rea l i ty ," or language as an expression of "le vecu." The very nature of "real ity" and "truth" are suspect, as shown when one of the narrators asks Vava: "Comment veux-tu e c r i r e l a v i e quand tu ne sais plus ce que c 'est , que tu ne l ' a s jamais su. . ."(347). Later the narrator c i t e s L e 3 Femme3 et l e sen3 de l'honneur by Adrienne Rich , i n which the author apparently says: "la v e r i t e n'existe pas. Ni meme une v £ r i t e \ Que c'est un reseau de complexites l a v e r i t e . . . . " ( 3 5 1 ) In th i s way, l'6criture feminine jo ins modern philosphy i n s t r i k i n g a great blow to the very foundations of phallogocentri3m, as t ruth i s redefined i n oppostion to i t s t r a d i t i o n a l status as un iversa l value or transcendental s i g n i f i e d . "Ls v6rlt6," a s ing le , unquestionable truth does not ex i s t , no more than does "une verite" - one truth as opposed to another, which i s , therefore, not universal . The only t ruth that exists i3 one which i s unknowable, p r e c i s e l y because i t i s mult ip le . This i s s i m i l a r l y considered i n Derr ida '3 Eperons, as he examines Nietzsche's work: lies v e r i t e s , cela implique sans doute que ce ne sont pas des ver i t6s puisqu'e l l e s sont mult ip les , bar io lees , contradicto ires . II n'y a done pas une verite" en s o i , mais de s u r c r o i t , meme pour moi, de moi, l a verite e3t p l u r i e l l e . 8 V i l l e m a i r e ' s narrator goes on to say: 51 Je voudrais ecr ire l a v e r i t e , toute l a ver i t e et je n'y a r r i v e pas. C'est beaucoup trop complique; i l y a dix m i l l e choses a l a fo i s dans chacune des choses. (351) Once again, the i l l u s o r y nature of the uni tary f ixed philosophy of phallogocentrism i s undelined. This leads to what mu3t be the most quoted passage from the text: La v ie en prose, parce que l a d i s t i n c t i o n n'existe pas. C'est l 'un ivers du rose: entre le rouge de l a revolut ion et le blanc de l a fete. Une sorte de tremblement entre le no ir et l e blanc, un l i e u d ia lec t ique ou l a membrane curieuse qui accomplit l a mission de son ADN et s 'obstine a ecr i re son nom, se s a i s i t de 1'hemisphere du s i lence pour dissoudre. Toute est dans toute et y a r i e n l a comme d i t cet etre hybride d'une s c i ence - f i c t i on mutante qui court les rues. C'est l a pure v e r i t e pourtant. (129) The " l ieu d ia lect ique" which the narrator describes i s a space i n which categories are no longer poss ib le , where everything i s a part of everything else: one of the narrators says, for example: "la v ie c'est l a mort auss i , [que] c'est l i e indefiniment. Quand on assure l a v i e , c 'est qu'on craint l a mort." (347); and elsewhere: "De l a Yierge ou d'Ariane, du p a r e i l au meme" (84). D i s t i n c t i o n thus becomes impossible as, once again, here as discussed i n the f i r s t chapter, uni tary , defined concepts are deconstructed or r i d i c u l e d and shown to be both themselves and other. This i s pract ised throughout La Vie en prose i n the form of an concerted resistance to d e f i n i t i o n and naming, which i s immediately apparent, f i r s t of a l l , on the l eve l of textual d e f i n i t i o n . La Vie en prose c a l l 3 i t s e l f a novel (roman), a recognised l i t e r a r y form, of which a reader might expect cer ta in charac ter i s t i c s . However, th i s text possesses few, i f any, of what might be considered prerequis i tes for the t r a d i t i o n a l novel (some sort of "plot" and developed character, for example) and plays with the very idea of genre and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . Opening with what looks l i k e the t r a n s c r i p t i o n of a k'&ff&eklatsch, the text continues as a personal d i a r y complete with dates and place names as "subheadings, " followed by a Beckettian dialogue, followed i n turn by l e t t er s and song l y r i c s ( i n "Lettre d'amour a mon ange gardien"), prose-poetry ("Delta/echo, s ierra/tango") and so on, creating a generic "patchwork. " Elsewhere, the d i f f i c u l t y of c l a s s i f y i n g i s imitated on the l e v e l of the in tratext as the various works by the d i f f erent wr i ter -narrators are considered. At the beginning the women talk about Blanche'3 f i l m . Pink Lady: i t i s described var ious ly as "le plus beau f i l m d"amour", "un peu space-opera", "une sorte de t h r i l l e r art-deco" and "une sadhana tantrique. " (7) Each successive term i3 a l i t t l e more obscure or f igurat ive than the previous one, leaving the reader equally at sea as to the actual nature of the f i lm: the made-up "sadhana-tantrique" would seem to be as informative a3 any 53 other epithet! Later Rose attempts to ass ign her own work to a p a r t i c u l a r genre, having decided against "space-opera" as her text Yvel le Swarms on i s "du crache-vecu" ( 3 6 8 ) , f inal ly-se lect ing the term "roman-savon", a "new" term, as none of the exis t ing labels r e a l l y " f i t s ." The combination of genres which the text presents and the d i f f i c u l t y i n def ining the text i t s e l f which th i s combination cau363, const i tute a del iberate e f fort to r e s i s t d e f i n i t i o n , thereby undermining the pigeon-holing mania of the l i t e r a r y cannon, which i n s i s t s on categoris ing according to structure or genre, or "value" ami "level": and here, as already mentioned, the text incorporates a whole catelogue of leve ls and discourses , ranging from Harlequin Romance to l i t e r a r y theory, to childspeak and so on. Such a refusa l of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i s evident i n other recent feminist works: Nicole Brossard's French K i s s , for example, al30 uses cartoons, while Helene Cixous combines l i t e r a r y theory and prose poetry i n her works, 9 thus representing a move to "faire 3auter les barriere3 entre les genres"^ i n an attempt to break down and question the very value of the l i m i t i n g , exclusive system of nominisation. This de l iberate resistance i s described by Helene Cixous i n her "manifesto" for women's wr i t ing , "Le Rire de l a Meduse": Impossible de d e f i n i r une pratique feminine de E4 l ' e c r i t u r e , d'une imposs ib i l i t e qui se maintiendra car on ne pourra jamais theoriser cette pratique, l 'enfermer, l a coder, ce qui ne s i g n i f i e pas qu 'e l l e n" existe pas. Hais e l l e excedera toujours les discours que reg i t le systeme phallogocentrique: e l l e a et aura l i e u a i l l e u r s que dans les t e r r i t o i r e s 3ubordonnes a l a domination philosophique-theorique. E l l e ne se l a i s s e r a penser que par les sujets casseurs des automatismes, les coureurs de bords qu'aucune autor i t e ne subjugue jamais .H There are , however, cer ta in charac ter i s t i c s of the s tyle of wri t ing to which Cixous refers , as w i l l become apparent, but the resistance to the c la s s i fy ing process resu l t s from the fact that the des ire to labe l i s seen as an inherent ly masculine t r a i t , "betraying a phallogocentric des ire to s t a b i l i z e , organize and rational ize ."12 As T o r i l Hoi points out: feminists have cons is tant ly argued that "those who have the power to name the world are i n a p o s i t i o n to influence real i ty ."13 In ef fect , i n V i l l e m a i r e ' s text the naming process i s blocked as "un genre qui n" en est pas un" - to use Ir igaray ' s word-play - i s created, unnamable and u n c l a s s i f i a b l e , which thus undermines, even subverts, the naming authori ty . It would 3eem that to make any attempt to labe l La Vie en prose would be to f a l l into a trap and to perpetuate the values of the neat, orderly phal logocentric system, while at the same time, attempting to close or repress an apparently i r r e p r e s s i b l e text. This defiance was previously mentioned, as evident i n 55 the mult iple layers of pseudonyms which cover the wr i t er -n a r r a t o r ^ ) . The reader i s once again drawn i n , de l ibera te ly tempted - dared, even - to analyse, to l a b e l , as the whole idea of nominisation i3 treated as a trap or a joke and the reader i s led on a "merry dance." Later i n the book, for example, at another meeting: Marie d i t : c'est quoi une auto? Rose repond que c'est une machine. Que1qu'un demande c'est quoi une machine. Rose d i t que c'est une sorte de Chine. Lotte demande c'est quoi l a Chine. Rose, au bord des larmes, d i t que c'e3t une question qu'e l l e s'e3t toujours pos6e [ s i c ] . Et a l o r s , Solange, tres f a c t - t o - f a c t , d i t que l a Chine, c'est une et iquette qu'on met sur le3 choses. (259) Here the process of def in ing , or the attempt to define i s parodied as the l abe l proffered i n each case gets further away from the i n i t i a l object. The search for d e f i n i t i o n or i d e n t i f i c a t i o n i s thus presented as endless and/or po int less , as a guest for the Holy G r a i l or the c i t y of E l Dorado: a process of i n f i n i t e regression, i n which each question leads only to another. 0 Elsewhere, the process i s seen as a human necessity, as much a need as food, or as an addic t ion: "Un v io lent besoin de nomination s'ouvre comme une chausse-trappe" (88), as though the need to define i s 3een to resu l t from a sense of lack, a des ire to explain and to understand. This same need i s demonstrated when the narrator desperately t r i e 3 to understand why Maud had said that Lotte "est be l et b ien revenue de New 56 York" (89-96), considering the numerous p o s s i b i l i t i e s , f i n a l l y and conveniently introducing a f igurat ive t h i r d party: "Quelqu"un a qui e l l e aura i t raconte 1 ' i n c e n d i e . . . . quelqu'un qui aura i t 6te l ' o b j e t de l a meme memorise et qui nous aura i t auss i confondues, Lotte et moi. " (95) Thus a so lut ion i s discovered, although i t s expediency and the number of coincidences i t requires , as well as the number of p o s s i b i l i t i e s i t ignores - i n short, i t s decidedly shakey foundations - are p a i n f u l l y apparent. Here the a n a l y t i c , ordering reader i s addressed as he/she attempts to ident i fy the narrator-character and solve the mystery, as, once again, i t i s th i s desire or need for order which i s at the basis of the phal logocentric discourse. The answers offered by V i l l e m a i r e ' s text , however, are e i ther openly a r t i f i c i a l , or are themselves simply further questions. The same undermining process i3 evident i n the wealth of adject ives and q u a l i f i e r s which overwhelm the text, i n a psychedelic use of colour. "Les ange3 bleus", "les dames en rose", "les cheveux rose3", "le3 ondes vertes", "les levres rouges, le3 joues rouges, les yeux rouges," f la sh l i k e neon signs from page to page, while elsewhere a s ingle adject ive i s not su f f i c i en t ; a song by Car la Bley i s 'beau comme "le beau temps sonne comme une casserole sur l a p lu i e du temps" ' (370); and Close Encounter ( s ic ) i s described as "beau comme une annonce de Corn Flakes" (139). Here, then, one word i s "not enough" as other words are needed to explain and qual i fy the 5 7 qual i f ier3, leading once again to the idea of i n f i n i t e regression. One of the narrators 3ays at one point: " i l faudrait b ien que j'apprenne a ecr ire sans a d j e c t i f s et sans peur" (129), thus drawing at tent ion to the use of adject ives as strengtheners and playing with the idea that "les mots sont faibles" i n the sense that a s ingle word or adject ive i s never su f f i c i en t to encapsulate a specific. "meaning" or to communicate a c e r t a i n sense. In th i s way V i l l e m a i r e ' s text questions the absolute communicative value of language, as used with in the predominant ideo log ica l discourse, which turns on a ser ies of concrete "meanings" and where th is "meaning" - the s i g n i f i e d - i s both a l l important and poss ible: a discourse which thus u l t imate ly deceives i t s e l f knowingly, as language i3 here, as i n other examples of gcriture feminine, constantly seen and presented as inadequate, at least i n i t s a b i l i t y to transmit or encapsulate meaning. In "Le Livre-Sphinx" the narrator considers, i n a s l i g h t l y more theore t i ca l way, the nature and value of language and the act of wr i t ing , coming to the conclusion that: Le langage est lui-meme une l i t o t e et ses productions, peut-etre des s u p e r-litote3. II y a peut-etre davantage de ree l dans le "a noir" de Rimbaud que dan3 n'importe quel t r a i t e sur l ' a l e p h , l a Grande Mere, le sunyata ou 1'etre et l e neant. Et i l y en a peut-etre encore davantage quand alpha elle-meme s 'eteint . (160) 53 This suggests that the very attempt to transmit meaning or to describe the "real" or "reality" ensures that that meaning w i l l be absent, and that language evacuates meaning rather than expressing i t . S i m i l a r l y , l a t e r , the narrator decides: s i l a v e r i t y e ta i t tranmiss ible , tout le monde 1'aurait communiquee a son f rere , j ' a i beau avoir peur, je l ' e c r i s quand meme car je suis bien contente, moi, que ceux qui en savent un p e t i t bout me le disent , meme s i , bout a bout, ces micro-v e r i t e s ne seront encore qu'une carte tres approximative du t e r r i t o i r e de l 'U l t ime Real i te . (215) In th i s way that the closed absolutism and prec i s ion of p a t r i a r c h a l discourse i s questioned and found lacking , as the "one word for one meaning" philosophy i3 replaced by the exclamation "comme s i un mot pouvait tout expliquer" ( 5 2 ) , while the process of wri t ing or typing r e v e a l s . . . l a fragmentation imbecile du langage et le d e r i s o i r e et incelant de ces "marques" qu i , au l i e u de f a i r e surgir l a f i c t i o n , n'en font que mettre a. jour les mai l les , tout comme du r £ e l , jamais les mots ne sauront rendre compte. (160) However, "black and white" being so t o t a l l y a l i e n to V i l l e m a i r e ' s text, th is i s i n no way a purely negative attack either on the ideo log ica l discourse or on language i t s e l f : rather, th i s "discovery" as to the nature of language i s presented as l i b e r a t i n g . La Vie en prose turns p r e c i s e l y on the idea that 59 language "ne peut pas appeler un chat un chat" - that one word i s never enough, exaggerating i t s lack of prec i s i on and inherent s i g n i f i c a t i o n . In th is way the text escapes from the s t r i c t u r e s of the prisonhou3e of phallogocentrism, breaking away from the necess i ty of l o g i c a l progression and allowing words to flow as i f they had a l i f e of the ir own. Thi3 endows the text with a digress ive qua l i ty , as the wri ter -narrators allow themselves to be "3ide - tracked," recording the ir interrupt ions and f l i g h t s of thought or fancy. The narrators' attempts to re la te an incident , for example, are constantly thwarted: Je pouvais bien r i r e , 1" 6te dern ier , a Avignon au cours d'un r e c i t a l de poesie "feminine" qui semblait fonde sur l a thamatique du chien Des chiens, i l y en a p l e i n dans ma v i e et dans ma prose; ca en devient chiant. C l i n d ' o e i l aux psychanalystes: moi je dSchi f fre tellement v i t e maintenant et ca bloque toujours en deuxieme chakra, a lor s c'est rendu que je m'en cr i s se . De tete de chien a3tral en Caniche Head, comme j ' a i entendu l a premiere fo i s ce nom de Conishead P r i o r y ou j ' a i f i a t connaissance ave Manjushri, Chenrezig et C i e . , en bouledogues hypnagogiques et en tantous tres reels comme cet autre chien p o l i c i e r que promenait l e d iab le que j ' a i rencontre rue Saint-Denis l e jour ou j ' a i s u i v l l a ple ine lune du printemps qui e t a i t grosse a ce point que maman, dans l 'auto , tandis qu 'e l l e me reconduisait chez moi, l ' a elle-meme pr i s e pour un OYNI. iiaudites parentheses! (200) Here, the point of the story i s l o s t or at l east endlessly delayed, as the narrator t r i e s i n va in to get a t ight r e i n on the words which, apparently, have a momentum of the ir own. The d i s c o n t i n u i t y i s caused by the assoc iat ive qual i ty 60. of language; although each word may be given a spec i f i c value or s igni f icance wi th in a given phrase or context (denotation), so, depending on i t s context, i t a lso has the capacity to s i g n i f y an i n f i n i t e number of other concepts (connotation), depending on the background, experience and thought processes of the speaker/writer (as wel l a3 on those of the l i s t ener / reader ) . The passage above, for example, shows the narra tor ' s thought patterns wandering away from the "story" as the word "chien" conjures up another idea or memory leading her to a p a r t i c u l a r dog, which, i n turn leads her to r e c a l l a spec i f i c day and the d e t a i l s of that day: a l l apparently "irrelevant" to the anecdote about the poetry r e c i t a l i n Avignon. I t becomes evident that the text progresses as a re su l t of phonetic - i n the case of Conishead/Caniche Head -graphic and mnemonic assoc ia t ion , creating a stream of consciousness effect which, while reveal ing the subconscious workings of the mind, a lso demonstrates the p lay of s i g n i f i e r s taking place thoughout the text, thereby creating "une galaxie de s i g n i f i a n t s , non une structure de signifies"14; or, to quote Lewis C a r r o l l : "No word has meaing INSEPARABLY attached to i t , a word means what the speaker intends by i t and what the hearer understands by i t . " I 5 E a r l i e r , the narrator comments on a s imi lar d igress ion: Du changement d 'orb i t e de l a metaphore psychanalytique a l a metaphore soc ia le , je ne suis pas directement responsable. Ce sont les mot3 qui 61 ont tendance a confondre l ' h i s t o i r e personnelle a 1 'ac tua l i ty regionale, nationale ou Internationale. (199) The interrupt ions to the l inear progression of the narrat ive are blamed on language i t s e l f , as words get out of contro l : the narrator dec lares , with a comi-tragic a i r : Les mots sont for t s , helas, et ont tendance a s'imposer contre 1'hemisphere du s i lence: j ' a imera i s a r r i v e r a ecr ire des s i lences qui s'entendent. Mais les mots tendent a l a detente, les mots jasent et le texte e3t r a v i par 1'anecdote. (129) The text i s open to a l l the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of language, once again questioning the log ic and p u r i t y of the phal logocentric discourse , b u i l t on absolutes, which deafens i t s e l f to the myriad "meanings" or associat ions evoked by each word. Here, each word has a spec i f i c intended concept or s i g n i f i e d , which i s i t s e l f a s i g n i f i e r for another concept, which, i n turn i s simultaneously a s i g n i f i e r V i l l e m a i r e ' s text t h u 3 demonstrates a never-ending process of s i g n i f i c a t i o n , to the point where, to borrow Derr ida's phrase, there i s no longer an "hors-texte," as the "hors-texte" has i t s e l f become text, incorporat ing what would, i n a t r a d i t i o n a l phal logocentric discourse , be l e f t unsaid. By ind ica t ing the "wri tabi l i ty" of a l l things and showing how everything i s material for wr i t ing , the text erodes the d i s t i n c t i o n between f i c t i o n and r e a l i t y to the extent that "on d i r a i t qu' i l y a de3 points entre l a f i c t i o n et l e reel" 62 (207). L i f e i s evidently seen a3 mater ia l for f i c t i o n : the spider p lant , "la sanseviere" (216) for example, forces the narrator to write the word "araignee" and the match, by f a l l i n g into the typewriter and blocking the "P", forces the narrator to remember "cette pyromane qu'e l l e ava i t rencontree, un mois plus tot , sur le travers ier de Levis . " (85). Yet the two "levels" become confused to the point where i t i s unclear as to which influenced which. The narrator remembers, for example, "ce jour de j u i n ou . . . . l a f i c t i o n a bascule dan3 le r e e l , comme dans cette scene du roman p o l i c i e r que j ' a i e c r i t i l y a quelque3 annees. " (50) Once again, as i n the preceding discuss ion, the point here i s not to conclude that there i s no dif ference between the two, rather that the two become confused and that the d i s t inguish ing process i s never-ending. The very attempt to bring Order to the "Chaos" of language i3 shown to be r id icu lous and se l f -defeat ing , as the narrator asks: Pourquoi r e l i t - o n ce qu'on v ient juste d ' e c r i r i e , sinon pour controler le degre de pertinence l ingu i s t ique d'un message dont on risque de perdre a i n s i l a suite qui de toute facon n"existai t pas, puisqu'on est revenus l a au point du depart. (162-3) Any process of order and control i s seen as p a t r i a r c h a l and r e s t r i c t i n g . The narrator-wri ter says: "j 1ambitionne sur le pain beni en me refusant a mettre au point f i n a l " while the f u l l s t o p , the omega of the sentence i s described as "1"instance paternel le de l a langue maternelle" (170). Elsewhere the £2 process of edi t ing i s seen a3 a great loss , the cutt ing out of the deviat ions , the frus trat ions and such l i k e , which a l l contribute to the f in i shed , published work: On devrai t sans doute savoir renoncer aux charmes m&nuscrits que sont les rature3, les £ l e c h e s , les enluminures de points , les mots repasses et les dessins dans l a marge, l e temps d'une c igarette de re f l ex ion avant de poursuivre parce qu'on pense qu'on a perdu ce qu'on vou la i t d i r e ce qui est bien la plus demente vers ion de l a f i c t i o n . (161) Again, what i s "normally" unsaid or unwritten i s here reconsidered, i t s exclusion seen as loss , r e i t e r a t i n g the idea of the masculine text being a "castrated" text. The digress ive qua l i ty of La Vie en prose, with i t s chatty tone, d i scont inu i ty , and the predominant use of the f i r s t person i n the narrat ive , gives the text an o r a l / a u r a l qua l i ty , a3 though the reader i s faced with the t r a n s c r i p t i o n of the narrator ' s thought, spoken into a tape recorder. This effect i s further suggested by the opening and c los ing words of the text: "Vava d i t . . . . comme d i r a i t Yava," and by the i n c l u s i o n of mimerous col loquial i sms and the use of joual i n dialogue. The text i s frequently interrupted by "Toujours est-i l . . . , " while the character-narrators ta lk i n terms of "quosse 9a", "t 'as- tu vu", "anyway un freak enterre un freak" (343), "Che pus q u i . . . . " , "ouache", "ouen", which while contributing to the "oralitude" of the text, a l so draw at tent ion to the use of joual i n Quebecois l i t e r a t u r e and to another case of a marginal /minority group challenging the dominant ideology 64 through a challenge to the ideo log ica l discourse.16 This a lso represents the erosion of the d i s t i n c t i o n between wri t ten and spoken language, as the "voice" of the narrators can be "heard" behind the text. This "pr iv i l eg ing of the voice" i s s i g n i f i c a n t to women's wri t ing . In the work of Cixous, for example, "writing and voice . . . . are woven together;"17 while, according to T o r i l Moi, the voice i s s i gn i f i cant because "finding i t s source i n a time before the Law came into being, the voice i s nameless: i t i s placed f i rmly i n the pre-Oedipal stage before the c h i l d acquires language and thereby the capacity to name i t s e l f and o b j e c t s . " 1 8 The voice i s thus c lose ly connected with the Imaginary Order, the Lacanian "feminine". The effect here i s of a l i d being l i f t e d , or of a gag being removed, al lowing Woman's voice to flow unimpeded. It i s as though Woman has at l a s t found her own voice , at l a s t been allowed to speak her own words, and ha3 consequently become a f u l l speaking subject: the hys ter ic has found a sympathetic, u n c r i t i c a l l i s t e n e r . The accusation of "discontinuity" which her speech might provoke, belongs so le ly to the phal logocentric discourse and so i s here disregarded or i rre l evant . The text thus c r i t i q u e s the various f a l l a c i e s of the phal logocentric discourse , r e l i a n t as i t i s on a system of 65 exclusions and reject ions . The p o s s i b i l i t y of a neat, u n i f i e d , conceptual world i s shown to be ludicrous , while the language used to express such a world, by i t s foundation on a system of universals or transcendental s ign i f i eds , cannot be anything other than downright deceptive. Stefano Agost i describes th i s i n h i s in troduct ion to Eperons, as the c l a r i t y of th i s d i s c o u r s e . . . . l u i v ient de ce qu' e l l e exclut et qui est en dehors d ' e l l e , sou3trait, t i r e hors d ' e l l e , separe d ' e l l e : l e sens et l a ver i t e — auxquels e l l e renvoie, pour s'en d6fendre, et qui sont et ont 6t6 sans cesse au dessus d ' e l l e , sans commerce avec e l le .19 Thus by a sp i r ing to express t ruth and meaning, th i s discourse ensures that truth and meaning w i l l be perpetual ly absent. V i l l e m a i r e ' s text exposes the castrated, atrophaic nature of th i s discourse, replacing i t with a digress ive "discontinuous" magma of words, i n a p a r r i c i d a l attack.20 i n contrast to the exclusive ideo log ica l discourse . La Vie en  prose opens i t s e l f to everything, creating a psychedelic and metaleptic discourse i n which, as Agost i says: l e sens n'est pas a i l l e u r s , mais se f a i t et de fa i t avec e l l e . . . . Car cette ecr i ture ne d i t r i e n mais b ien mele et confond, pousse sur les marges ce qu 'e l l e d i t , s'empare des marges pour que r i e n ne se f ixe l a . C'est une ecr i ture obscure, qui efface ce qu"elle trace, qui disperse ce qu"elle dit .21 This i s i l l u s t r a t e d by the constant questions which the text £6 provokes: f i r s t , those posed d i r e c t l y by the text i t s e l f ; the "comment 9a?", "qu"est-ce que c'est?" and so on, which punctuate the text; as well a3 the questions raised by the meta l inguis t ic discourse, which, although "dispersed," continue throughout the text, commenting on the nature of language, wri t ing and the feminine. This i s re i terated i n the questions posed by the bemused reader, attempting to arrange things into some kind of order or at least to trace a thread or two. Th i s , however, as described i n an e a r l i e r sect ion, i s a never-ending process, for indeed the text i t 3 e l f confesses: "c'etait un processus qui semblait ne devoir jamais s ' a r r e t e r . " (50) Even the wr i ter -narrator has to admit defeat on th i s point , and says: "A force de suivre tous les f i l s a l a fo i s je perds le f i l " (282) while she needs a "guinea pig" to test out "les mult iples p i s tes qui s 'of frent a moi pour f a i r e d^bouler toutes le3 autres."(194) Once again, the i n f i n i t e propensity for s i g n i f i c a t i o n which language possesses and d i sp lays , i s seen as an unfathomable source, a c t i v e l y se l f -propagat ing, g iv ing the writer not the d i f f i c u l t y of "finding" the r ight words but of "selecting" from among the multitude simultaneously presenting themselves to her. However, the process of questioning, which takes place on both sides of the text, creates, yet again, a fee l ing of perpetual motion and energy as ideas and queries are thrown back and forth . The search for le mot juste or for something concrete on which to b u i l d , being continou3ly thwarted, becomes 6 7 exuberant, the t h r i l l of a chase which has no end - while language, the medium of the search, becomes a source of somewhat anarchic pleasure. Just as, on the d i scurs ive l e v e l , the text rejects a l l regulating standards, on the l i n g u i s t i c l e v e l i t l iberates i t s e l f from a l l s t r i c t u r e s , drawing on both the phonetic and graphic aspects of language, and i n v i t i n g the reader to j o i n the "dance." (198) The twins, Bip and Pola , who have at an ear ly age decided that language i s an out-of-date method of communication, create a "roman-fleuve," writ ten phonet ical ly . As the usual structures of word3 are broken down, the ir work must be read aloud to be understood: "I LETE DE PETISAMI KISE HE LILI ET ODILE UN JOUEE IL VU UN DINOSASE IL LON TUfi. "(136) E a r l i e r a whole sect ion i s wri t ten i n a s i m i l a r l y c h i l d l i k e manner, while the narrator ta lks of a word game (played while staying with "Matante Anne" and "tlononcle Nick"): "ronron-macaron-ma- p e t i t e - s o e u r - e s t - e n - p r i s o n - f a i t - s i s s i - f a i t -cela-apitchou" (53); where a c h i l d - l i k e pleasure i n words i s evident. Elsewhere, the various homonyms of words are exploited i n a process of punning: L i s l e , for example, s a y 3 : "qu'un jour e l l e ava i t f a i t l e p a r i d ' a l l e r au p a r i . On d i t <£ Par i s qu'on l u i di3ait. E l l e d i 3 a i t non, aux Par i s . Parce que Par i s c 'est une v i l l e d'eau ou tous les garcons s 'appellent P a t r i c k . " (132) S i m i l a r l y , l a t e r , the narrator addre33es hersel f to 68 Soiange; "Soiange T e l l i e r , t 'es H6e par le sang rouge de ton pere Guillaume T e l l et t" es pas mal pomme a rester plantee. . . . Soiange t ' e s t r i e n , Soiange Therrien. " (240) Again there i s play on the phonetic s i m i l a r i t i e s of two d i f f erent orthographic structures , while l a t e r : "Oh pourquoi Hiroshima ma mere m'as-tu legue ton prenom d'ange s o l a i r e . . . " (240), the name Soiange being reduced to i t s etymological roots. The name of the author Gabr ie l Marquez i s used i n the same way: "car vous avez et6 marquee par l'archange Gabrie l et l e saint-fantome" (241), while elsewhere the name of a town, "Urbino," i s taken l i t e r a l l y : "C'e3t une inside joke, tres b i s s e x t i l e , vu qu' Urbino est une v i l l e b ina ire qui attrappe les l og i c i ens -machines. " (198) F i n a l l y , the name "Lei la" which appears at various stages, r e c a l l s f i r s t the colour " l i l a s" which pervades the text and was a lso formerly worn by Lot te , while her explanation as to her reason for wearing i t : "parce que je voulais qu'on me l i 3 e , " (7) r e c a l l s a lso the implied imperative " l i s - l a ! " again, p laying on the name; f i n a l l y th i s i s reversed: "alors on l a l i t . " (198) Once again, the pract ice of punning underlines the polysemic q u a l i t y of language, showing how u l t imate ly a r t i f i c i a l i t i s to ass ign any one meaning to any one word. Here a l so , the masculine discourse, based on a univocal concept of language, i s subverted a3 the text demonstrates how the same spoken sound may have mult iple graphic or wri t ten forms, as i n the play on "vers l a mer'V'vers l a mere"/"vers l 'amer," or i n 6 9 the breaking down of the name Georges: "je OR je" which i s taken from French Kiss and the wri t ing of "homme" as "0M". Furthermore, the text uses a number of anagrammes, t o t a l reorganisat ion of e i ther ind iv idua l or groups of words, such as "hypocrite" which becomes "etircophy" (92) while the author's name i t s e l f appears i n a jumbled form as "Noe-Vladimira Yel le" (133). Thus the structures of words, concrete i n a phal logocentric discourse which has no room for "fun," are shaken up to demonstrate the creat ive p o s s i b i l i t i e s and the lud ic p o t e n t i a l of language. The text a l so makes frequent use of the palindromic: "elle i r a M" (290), for example, i s the name "Marielle" i n reverse, while e a r l i e r i n the text , the phrase about the var iab le weather, "le temps se f a i t nuageux avec periodes enso le i l l ees ou e n s o l e i l l e avec periodes naugeuses" (105), i s s e l f - r e f l e c t i n g and "works . both ways," thus explo i t ing once more the v i s u a l aspect of language to create a phrase with i t s own i n t e r n a l poetry and completeness, as d o e 3 the name "Sabada Dabasa." Here the aesthet ic pleasure i n language i s revealed and exploited. The sect ion "Delta/echo, 3ierra/ tango" demonstrates th is at length, as for example, i n the passage: 70 je je je dans l a pyramythe des j qui f i l e n t a l ' ang la i se dans le diamant compulseur des inframondes, machinant a. laver l'organisme de ses spasmes programmes Si main gauche. Sabada Dabasa f a i t passer le drachme dans sa main dro i te . E l l e me f a i t des tours de magie blanche dans le noir du no ir . (238) S i m i l a r l y , i n " j ' a i le coeur en tournesol au coeur du mot hear t / ear th /ar t triptyque a l a hache dans mon coeur arcane six du r6el" (237) the in t erna l patterns, rhythms and beauty of the words are h igh- l ighted . Elsewhere language i s seen as having a texture and colour of i t own: Rose d i t qu 'e l l e e c r i t phantasme avec un ph pour que ce so i t plus l iqu ide et c lef avec / comme dans "femme".... que langage avec un c 'e3t pas comme langage sans u. Que sans i r e ' e s t mo ins vert Ben vert comme dans Rimbaud: a n o i r , e blanc, i rouge A l i c e 1'interrompt, d i t : tu devrais p lutot chercher l a couleur de3 consonnes. (369) Within the text, language i s thus seen as an i n f i n i t e source of pleasure: unrestr ic ted and l i m i t l e s s , words breed of themselves, recognizing no b a r r i e r s or ru les , thus const i tut ing a "texte de jouissance" which, according to Roland B a r t h e s . . . . met en etat de perte deconforte (peut-etre jusqu' b. un cer ta in ennui), f a i t v a c i l l e r les ass ises h i s tor iques , c u l t u r e l l e s , psychologiques, du lec teur , l a consistance de ses gouts, de ses valeurs et de ses souvenirs, met en cr i s e son rapport au langage. This treatment of language, while not exclusive to feminine wr i t ing , demonstrates a re jec t ion of t r a d i t i o n a l s t r i c t u r e s of discourse , i n a manner very close to the d i scurs ive techniques of Cixous, Brossard, Gagnon and Ir igaray, 71 among other representatives of 1' gcriture feminine. This represents an attempt to "dismantle the patr iarchy by the dismantling of p a t r i a r c h a l language"23 while try ing to make a space for the feminine wi th in language. This "attack" s i m i l a r l y involves a r e i n s c r i p t i o n of what has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been avoided i n masculine discourse, namely women's sexual i ty , or more s p e c i f i c a l l y , a wri t ing by women, of women's sexual i ty , i n women's discourse. In La Vie en prose, the menstrual cyc le , for example, i s described i n terms reminiscent of Cixous, as the narrator expresses her own p h y s i c a l i t y and sexual i ty , ta lk ing of "les profondeurs de ma feminity" (217), while the act of sexual intercourse i s s i m i l a r l y described i n "Jour de mai": On derive au gre des courants, on derive. Mon c l i t o r i s f a i t un p e t i t b r u i t d'eau sous l a caresse insinuante de ta main. Je suis toute en eau, en t r a i n de me noyer dans l ' e t e r n i t e . Tu roules des hanches et je t iens tes hanches dans mes mains pour ne pas sombrer . . . . On resp ire , bouche contre bouche, fatigues et on coule, dan3 1'orgasme, dans l e sommeil, je ne sais plus. On coule de tendresse, de chaleur, on coule. (296-7) This space given to women's sexual i ty and jouissance i s evident i n many examples of 2'dcriture f&siinine, as women are encouraged to "write themselves and the ir bodies" i n s i s t i n g that "to write from the body i s to recreate the world" while such writ ing w i l l "real ize the decensored r e l a t i o n of woman to her sexual i ty , to her womanly being, g iv ing her access to her 72 native s trength."24 At the same time, then, the act of wri t ing her sexual i ty i3 designed to eliminate woman's sense of a l i e n a t i o n to her own body, to bring her more i n tune with her sexual i ty and her "difference." Such wr i t ing involves not only a more graphic woman-centred d e s c r i p t i o n of the feminine, but a l so , as previously described, i t r ides on the rhythms and patterns of a feminine psychosexual s p e c i f i c i t y , including the flowing d i scont inu i ty and m u l t i p l i c i t y of the discourse and the p r i v i l e g i n g of the voice. S i m i l a r l y , woman's c y c l i c a l i t y i s imitated by the patterning of Y i l l e m a i r e ' s text with i t s se l f -repeat ing themes and phrase3, the recurrence of the meetings between the narrators , for instance, which appear at apparently regular i n t e r v a l s , while the narrator frequently ta lks of "1'eternal retour des mots et de3 cho3es" (162). This i s a lso recal led by the repeated f igures of c i r c l e s and s p i r a l s , common to women's wri t ing today, each "symbolizing" the i n f i n i t e , used to figure women'3 ind e t ermina cy .25 This usurpation of p a t r i a r c h a l language necessar i ly involves an examination of the subject and the re lat ionship between the subject and language. The un i tary subject which confidently says "I" i s seen as an inherent part of the phal logocentric discourse and culture. I t i s a "masculine" subject and here the word i s not synonymous with "male", but 73 s i g n i f i e s rather a spec i f i c subject p o s i t i o n whereby the subject sees i t s e l f as an ent i ty complete i n i t s e l f , and d i s t i n c t from the world. Yet the system which turns on such d i s t i n c t categories and ent i t i e s has already been shown to be f a l l i b l e and se l f -dece iv ing. Freder ic Jameson describes the concept of the ind iv idua l as a product of the bourgeoisie, the hegemonic c lass , and thus as a myth. 26 Consequently, the subject, as a product of the system, mu3t be as castrated and f a l l i b l e as the system i t s e l f . It i s by the decon3truction of the discursive, system, dependent on l o g i c , coherence and un i ty that, by contrast , women'3 discourse and that of the avant-garde, with the ir "breaks and d i s loca t ions reveal the cracks i n the s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l facade of the subject. "27 i n the space cleared by the death of th is subject, i s placed a "feminine" subject (again, not necessar i ly "female"), which i s i n effect the a n t i t h e s i s of the uni tary subject. Characterized as mul t ip le , f l u i d and indeterminate, th i s feminine subject, or "feminine l i b i d i n a l economy," bases i t 3 e l f rather on the rhythms of woman's sexual i ty (as described e a r l i e r ) . Mult ip le and indefinable i n herse l f , the woman subject i s presented a3 such throughout La Vie en prose, by means of a sh i f t ing narrat ive p o s i t i o n and a mult iple perspective. A dozen or so women are apparently working and wri t ing together, the combination of the ir texts and voices already causing a d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of the t r a d i t i o n a l s o l i t a r y narrat ive 74 voice , while d ispers ing and mult iply ing the perspective. However, a3 described e a r l i e r , these voices are p r a c t i c a l l y inat tr ibutable . Although they speak i n the f i r s t person, creating a wealth of "I" 's , their owners, or the speaking subjects they announce, are indis t inguishable . These words do not "belong" to one more than to any other, as the narrators may be cancelled out through a disentangling or an uncovering of the ir pseudonyms, leaving just two, or perhaps only one pres iding voice.28 i n thi3 way the s ingle subject i s shown to be fragmented and polyvocal . A3 Car la say3, looking through the "octascope" " i l y a hu i t Solange qui l u i sourient a l a fois" (360-1); and elsewhere: je rougis de3 pages et des pages, cherchant & rouer "je" dont je ne 3ais meme pas c'est qui puisque c'est une autre, meme s i e l l e par l e , e l l e auss i , 8; l a premiere personne. (242) Here, then, the wri t ing subject and the writ ten "I" are shown to be separate: a d i f ference , though not a complete d i s t i n c t i o n , l i e s between the subject and i t s e l f . Again: je je je dans l a sp ira le du temps perdu dans l a nuit des temps et pourtant ce n'e3t pa3 moi qui par l e , c'est je je je , un autre et je pourtant est wie autre qui vole une phrase au continuum des ca l l i graph ie s palimpsestes de ce qu'on appel le les choses de l a v ie . (238) The subject i s thus already fragmented i n i t s e l f and i s further 3 p l i t from i t s e l f as "I" becomes "an other" again 75 showing the distance between the subject of enunciation and the f i c t i o n a l subject of the discourse. Here, then, the d i s t i n c t i o n does not l i e between the speaking/writ ing se l f and the "rest of the world," or between se l f and "other," as with the masculine subject. On the contrary, the subject i s portrayed as both i t s e l f and other at the same time: a sort of "l 'Un est 1'Autre,"29 which both challenges the phal logocentric un i f i ed subject and embodies the feminine l i b i d i n a l economy which i s "open to difference" and inter change,30 again al lowing the i n c l u s i o n of what has been marginalized, as V i l l emaire herself says elsewhere: " T o n sa i t bien q u ' i l y a toujours de l ' u n dans l ' a u t r e et de l ' a u t r e dans l'un."31 Thus La Vie en prose "deconstructs" the p a t r i a r c h a l discourse by showing i t s b l ind assumptions and prejudices , while of fer ing i n i t s place a feminine discourse , a goal espoused by the wr i ters of 2'Ecriture fQuinine, with which La  Vie en prose has many s i m i l a r i t i e s . However, as always, i t i s not a case of a simple, uncomplicated subs t i tu t ion of discourses: feminine for masculine. The character Car la i l l u s t r a t e s quite c l e a r l y the at t i tude to the feminisat ion of language, as pract i sed by some feminist wri ters . C a r l a , a d e l i g h t f u l character , uses the feminine of nouns and of invar iable phrases, i n s i s t i n g that "quand on est une f i l l e , i l faut par ler au 'feminine' " (19) refering to J u l i e n as "ma ch6rie" and informing the narrator: "none, none, que c'est 76 seulement l a douze j u i l l e t t e son avionne." (340) Elsewhere, the narrator states that: je ne r e f e r a i pas l a grammaire en moins sexiste car e l l e me donne deja assez de troubles comme pa et les prec is ions s ty le ' gue lgu , un(e) ' , pa a lourd i t sans changer r i e n a r i en . (26) S i m i l a r l y , while Woman i s here given a chance to use her own voice and to speak her own words, there are times when i t i s questionable as to whether i t i s the woman who i s 3peaking the words or whether the word3 are speaking the woman. Her attempts to get a gr ip on her language are presented with comic effect; the passage above, for example, ending with the exclamation "Maudites parentheses!" (200)32 shows the narra tor ' s f r u s t r a t i o n or annoyance. Elsewhere the narrator opens a long banal parenthesis on her habit of signing and dating books, only to say: ( . . . . Je viens de raturer quelques ligne3 de d igress ion supplementaires sur mes d i f ferentes signatures dont 1'evolution s 'est malheureusement interrompue vers me3 quinze ans. C ' e t a i t bien p l a t et n 'apportai t strictement r i e n au f i l de 1*intrigue. As3ez d'auti3me. Rompant avec toutes les regies je m'apprete maintenant a vous fermer l a parenthese au nez meme s i , au fond, e l l e est pas f i n i e . ) (24) Here her d igress ion i s reread and "controlled" but only to the point of making i t a s l i g h t l y less lengthy d igress ion than before: i t i s as though "relevance" were no longer an issue, as though instead the voice , the act of speaking, were a l l that 77 mattered. This discourse thus a l so receives i t s share of c r i t i c i s m . While ant iphal logocentr ic i n the extreme, i t i s a l so shown to be somewhat f rus t ra t ing and "impractical": a l r i g h t i n i t s place , but not su i table when there i s work to be done. At the beginning of the novel , one of the women attempts to s tar t the game of i n f i n i t e regression as described e a r l i e r : " . . . . f a u d r a i t qu' on se decide a commencer l a reunion. A l i c e d i t c' est quoi une reunion? C a r l a d i t ben, une reunion, c ' e s t . . . . Vava d i t a d i t ca juste pour n i a i s e r , Car la" (10) where the idea i s seen as perhaps rather c h i l d i s h and i r r i t a t i n g , or as an old joke. Nevertheless, V i l l e m a i r e ' s text has escaped from the confines of the p a t r i a r c h a l discourse , leaving behind i t ideas of necessary l i n e a r i t y , l og i c and cont inui ty , showing them to be a r t i f i c i a l and incongruous, as the very notion of an absolute value or concept i s rejected. S i m i l a r l y , La Vie en  prose refuses to be pigeon-holed i n any way, exploring and playing with numerous s ty les and discourses - even, i t would seem, that of 2'e~criture feminine, despite i t s many s i m i l a r i t i e s with the s ty le . However, an anarchic text i n perpetual motion, constantly questioning and changing. La Vie  en prose remains an extremely feminine text i n Derr id ian terms, as wel l as i n terms of i t 3 o v e r a l l character, colour and texture. The text l ibera te s i t s e l f of any s t r i c t u r e s , shaking off i t s 3hackles and r e v e l l i n g i n i t s new found freedom, taking the opportunity, l i k e V i l l e m a i r e , to experiment "dans tous les 78 sens."38 t 79 Notes 1 Chr i s Weedon discusses Loui3 A l thusser ' s theories i n her book Feminist Pract i ce and P o s t s t r u c t u r a l i s t Theory (Oxford: B a s i l Blackwel l , 1988) 29-32. 2 D e r r i d a 54. 3 See Helene Cixous. "Castration or Decapitation?" Signs 7. 1 (1981) 36-55. 4 Cixous, "Castration" 45. 5 Cixous, i n "Le Rire de l a M6duse." 6 Ir igaray 24. 7 Ir igaray 28. 8 Derrida 102. 9 See, for example, Cixous' "La Venue a 1'ecri ture" wri t ten with Annie Lec l erc and Madeleine Gagnon whose writ ings al30 i l l u s t r a t e th i s combination of theory and p r a c t i c e . (Paris: U . G . E , 10/18, 1977); al30 Nicole Brossard's French K i s s . (Montreal, E d i t i o n s du jour, 1974). 10 A common goal among feminist and avant-garde writers a l i k e , Madeleine Gagnon mentioned i t during a conference at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, March 1988. H Cixous, "Meduse" 45. 12 Moi 159 13 Moi 158 14 Roland Barthes, S/Z C o l l . Points (Par i s , Edi t ions du S e u i l , 1970) 12. 15 Lewis C a r r o l l i n h i s essay "The Stage and the S p i r i t of Reverence," The Theatre 1888; a l so quoted i n Robert D. Sutherland, Language and Lewis C a r r o l l (The Hague & P a r i s , Morton, 1970). 16 The term "oralitude" i s taken from Beatr ice D i d i e r , L ' E c r i t u r e - f emme (Pari3, Presses Universitaire3 de France, 1981) 32. 80 17 Cixous, "Jeune nee" 170, quoted i n Moi 114. 18 Moi 114. 19 Stefano Agost i "Preface" to Derr ida ' s Eperons, 20. 20 Agost i 22. 21 Agost i 20-22. 22 Roland Barthes, Le P l a i s i r du texte C o l l . Points (Paris , Edi t ions du S e u i l , 1973) 25-26. 23 Taken from HSlene Vivienne Wenzel, "The Text as B o d y / P o l i t i c s : An Appreciat ion of Monique W i t t i g ' s Writings i n Context," Feminist Studies 7. 2 (Summer 1981). 24 cixous "M6duse,u quoted i n Jone3 250. 25 Monique W i t t i g , for example, U3es the c i r c l e as a strong f igure of women's sexual i ty i n Les G u e r r i l l e r e s (Paris , E d i t i o n de Minui t , 1969). 26 Jameson 115. 27 Furman 74. 28 L i s e Potv in eliminates a l l hut Solange and Vava, while P i e r r e Nepveu, for example, claims there i s just one narrator , though he doe3 not specify who th i s might be: we prefer to leave the question open, as both, or ne i ther , may be "correct"! 29 E l i s a b e t h Badinter has wr i t ten a book of the same name, though her choice of t i t l e seems to resu l t from a rather over-opt imis t i c opinion that sexual equal i ty has been achieved already; see L'Un est 1'autre: des re la t ions entre hommes et  femmes (Par is : Ed i t i ons Odi le Jacob, 1986). 30 noi 113. s i Yolande V i l l e m a i r e , "Du cote hieroglyphique de ce qu'on appel le l e r e e l , " L iber te 23. 4 (1981). 81 Conclusion 82 Thi3 study has considered some of the various l i n g u i s t i c and s t r u c t u r a l devices of La Vie en prose i n r e l a t i o n to the s ty le and "philosophy" of 1'Ecriture feminine. The use of a vast in ter tex tua l reservoir challenges the e l i t i s t boundaries set up by the closed academic l i t e r a r y world, by introducing what would normally be excluded. The l i t e r a r y melting pot which th i s const i tutes i s matched both by the references of the i n t r a t e x t , which imitates and parodies the textual (and other) borrowings of the in ter text , and by the mixture of genres and discourses exploited on the textual l e v e l . The combination of these devices resu l t s i n a text which d e l i b e r a t e l y res i s t s the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and l a b e l l i n g , which i s not only a necessity to the p a t r i a r c h a l l i t e r a r y cannon but a l so a foundation of the p a t r i a r c h a l phal logocentric system i t 3 e l f . Such resistance challenges an ideo log ica l discourse which r e l i e s prec i se ly on the neatness and log ic of a univocal and u n i t a r i a n language made up of assigned "s ign i fied3" , based on a c lear cut "one word for one meaning" doctrine. Within the text the very idea of a neat categorisable world and of fundamental truths i s demolished and shown to be a f a l l a c y , as i s the discourse which claims to express i t . In place of th i s simple r e s t r i c t i v e system, V i l l e m a i r e ' s text allows language i t s f u l l p o t e n t i a l . Consequently word3 and text flow where they w i l l , switching from subject to 83 subject as each word serves as a breach to a reservoir of others which, i n turn open the floodgates to a perpetual torrent of language. This playing on the power of assoc ia t ion , while not unique to V i l l emaire or to women's wri t ing (works by by Joyce and S o l l e r s , for example, treat language i n a s imi lar way, as does the poet ic) i s l inked with the unconscious or the Lacanian Imaginary Order, usual ly associated with the feminine, as i t implies a r e j e c t i o n of the order and lack of the Symbolic or "masculine," phal logocentr ic Order . l The digressions which resu l t give the text a conversational tone, an "oral i tude," as though a mute had found her voice and revels i n the pleasure of her own speech and discourse. At the same time the d i s t i n c t i o n between spoken and wri t ten discourse i s eroded, as the polyvocal and polysemic q u a l i t i e s of language are exploited. By these means the communicative prec i s ion of language i s questioned, again eating away at the base of phallogocentrism, while i t s l u d i c and aesthet ic richness are brought to the fore. S i m i l a r l y , the re la t ionship between the subject and language i s examined, the subject i t s e l f no longer being presented as a un i f i ed whole, as i s the case with the dominant masculine subject, but as fragmented, p l u r a l and polyvocal , a f l u i d , indeterminate and p o s i t i v e l y feminine subject whose discourse follows the rhythms of women's indeterminable and mult iple sexual i ty , i n a s ty le very close to that of 1'6criture feminine and texts by other feminist writers . 8*4 Having undermined the very foundations of phallogocentrism, the text does not ru3h to set up i t s own discourse as the new and correct system. Instead th i s discourse i s i t s e l f undermined constantly, s e l f - r e f l e c t i n g and sel f -parodying, always i n a process of transformation, questioning and exploring, both making space for the h i therto rejected feminine and leaving room for the masculine i n i t s apparent recognit ion of the "pract ica l i ty" of the masculine discourse and the love of men obvious throughout. Thus, while not endorsing one hundred percent the s ty l e of I'^criturt ftfrnnine - inc luding i t s pretensions and fo ib le s among those to be laughed a t , and incorporating p o s i t i v e l y a n t i - l y r i c a l pasages a3 d i f f e r e n t from Ecriture feminine as black i s from white, thereby questioning i t s p o l i t i c a l a p p l i c a t i o n V i l l e m a i r e ' s text recognizes and explores the necess i ty of a new discourse, p lay ing with p o s s i b i l i t i e s . Such a text i s open to the accusation of being over-academic and i t s e l f e l i t i s t , but the p r a c t i c a l impl icat ions of a new discourse and the force behind i t are a lso considered. The p o l i t i c a l , i . e . , feminist strength of the text and of women's w r i t i n g , i s tested out by the many women subjects of the text, examining the re lat ionship between the wri ter and the apparently feminist wr i t ing . While Nane Y e l l e , Soiange, Yava and the others are 85 elus ive , indeed sometimes un ident i f i ab le , and i t i s the ir voices that the reader hears and the ir words which he/she reads. A context i3 establ ished, however, which leaves the reader with the impression of having spent time i n the company of "flesh and blood" women, not perfect , not i n f a l l i b l e , whose l i v e s do not run smoothly, "real" women, who l i v e , write , laugh and love. A new type of mimetic i l l u s i o n , re f l ec t ing the incoherence and the interferences of l i f e , i s brought into play. The characters' re lat ionships and reactions to men and women are examined throughout the text: Vava's re la t ionship with Lexa, for example, i s traced, although evidently not i n a l inear "love-story" fashion. Vava's dec larat ion of love for Lexa comes at the end of the text (364), when i t would appear that the couple has already broken up i r r e c o n c i l a b l y , while the ups and downs of any re lat ionship are imitated by the d i s cont inu i ty of the narrat ion. The swing from the descr ip t ion of "le d e i i r e de Lexa, hurlant de jo i e 3 0 u s mon etre inte , abandonn6, souriant, Lexa le macho, renvers6 de p l a i s i r , superbe," (288) and of the mutual ecstasy of love-making, to the hurt which Lexa's mere presence causes, i s p lot ted at in terva l s throughout the text. S i m i l a r l y treated i s the joy another narrator shares with her lover: yuand i l grogne ie matin dans son l i t et g u 1 i l f u i t toute caresse derrifere les parois du sommeil, e l l e 96 apprend a se retrancher dans l a distance, f a i t le menage de l a sa l l e de bain, joue dans l ' eau avec le Mickey Mouse en plast ique q u ' i l l u i a donne pour son anniversa ire , reprend l a lecture de La Grosse  femme d'a cote est enceinte. Mais quand i l apparait souriant et que se3 levres brulantes s 'attardent dans son cou, e l l e je t te ses bras autour de l u i pour mieux boire l a chaleur apaisante de son corps. (247) The natural pleasure i n each other's bodies and company, evident here along with the sharing and understanding of a sat i s fy ing re la t ionsh ip , i s contrasted with the re j ec t i on f e l t as one of the narrators says: II m'a f a i t 1'amour tendrement, doucement, mais sans sour ire , sans m'ouvrir le lac t r a n q u i l l e de ses y e u x . . . . Cette f o i s , i l m'a retire son ame et je n ' a i sent i que l a houle de nos corps reunis. Mais sans le3 vert iges , 3ans 1"abandon, je touche pas le septieme c i e l . . . . je me demande... . pourquoi j'aime quand meme cet abrut i qui semble, depuis quelque temps, r6solu a refuser de partager son p l a i s i r . (355) However the d i f f i c u l t y of leaving a man who treats her i n th i s way i s also 3hown as the narator admits her love and/or dependence: . . . . q u a n d i l m'invite dan3 son l i t , je m'y g l i s s e et je 1 ' inv i te aus3i dans le mien. Le temps d'un simulacre d'union qui ne me convainc p lus , le temps d'une nu i t blanche de temps en temps, plus seule avec l u i que seule dans mon l i t . (355) The narrator thus describes the c o n f l i c t i n g emotions of love mingled with the sense that what the other people say: "que je gache ma v i e pour l u i " (354) i s i n fac t , or i n a 87 l o g i c a l , p r a c t i c a l sense, quite true. However, l o g i c and p r a c t i c a l i t y are once again shown to be i rre l evant as the narrator describes her re la t ionship with Djinny - an a f f a i r which i s given almost a mythical status. S i je ne r i a i s pas, je sens que je pourrais facilement retomber dans cette passion qui m'aveuglait a t e l point que j ' e n oub l ia i s toute d ign i t e . Je l 'a imais , je l 'aminais , c ' e t a i t tout ce que je savais. Je me f i c h a i s du monde e n t i e r . . . (222) The women of the text are open to loving and to being loved, to a l l the r i sks and hurt that accompany the pleasure. The male characters, though less developed, are portrayed as being equally suscept ible: Benoit, for instance, goes through heart-break at the same time as one of the women, while of Djinny, the narrator says: "c'est quand meme un peu t r i s t e de s 'etre aimes autant pour etre s i peu des amis maintenant" (223), and the hurt i s ev ident ly f e l t by both partners. Thus, while the majority of the women are evidently "feminist," as i s i l l u s t r a t e d on the s t r u c t u r a l and l i n g u i s t i c l eve l s , the text shows that role reversal or a re j ec t ion of men i s neither poss ib le nor des irable , by eroding the d i s t i n c t i o n between men and women and between s tereotypica l "masculine" and "feminine" ro les and charac ter i s t i c s . On a basic l e v e l , one of the narrators says: 88 II y avai t des vert iges d ' i r o n i e dans mon "Ah! que c'est done commode un homme dans l a maison".. . car c'est moi qui repare tout ce qui nous tombe dans les mains, des poignees de porte aux t i r o i r s de l a cuis ine dans notre appartement de Montreal (192) She shows her own independence, and undermines the cliche" of the handyman about the house. S i m i l a r l y the women laugh at the t r a d i t i o n of male super ior i ty . In response to Yava's exclamation "qu"elle est 6coeuree de f a i r e par t i e de l a race i n f e r i e u r e , " for example: Noelle d i t . . . Dans l a prochaine v i e , tu seras reincarnee en homme. . . . Je d i s que Pauline m'a raconte qu'une de ses amies c r o i t dur comme fer qu"etre une femme c'est l a derniere reincarnation. Qu'on a toutes et6 des vers de t erre , des poussins, des vaches, des hommes, des chats avant. Noelle d i t : "Les hommes, c'est meme avant le3 chats?" Vava d i t que dans "Je t'aime, je t'aime" de Renais, Catherine d i t que 1'Homme avec un grand H a ete cre6 pour assurer g i t e , nourr i ture et confort au chat. (337) The text inscr ibes the question of "nature versus nurture ," the idea that sexual i ty i s learned rather than inherent and that h i erarch i sa t ion i s a r b i t r a r y . 2 This i s p a r t i c u l a r l y noticeable a3 one of the narrators awaits her per iod , considering her reactions to i t and to the idea of motherhood. I t would seem, i n i t i a l l y , that motherhood i s perceived as an i n s t i n c t u a l "urge"; a3 the narrator says, "j 'avais enf in c6de a l'espfcce en fa isant 1'amour.. . . sans que j ' a i e prevu le moyen d'empecher l a rencontre de nos c e l l u l e s 89 reproductrices" (185) she l a t er ta lks of "les moments d'obedience a l'espece" and of "mon des t in biologique" (186) both of which apparently d ic ta te that pregnancy and motherhood are the natural states for women. However, at the same time, the narrator challenges th i s idea by her obvious r e l i e f when her period arr ive s (early) and by the fact that she warns her body that i t w i l l not get another chance. The question i s posed most overt ly , l a t e r , where she says: Le taoisme ne f a i t aucun sens pour une femme qui se demande anxieusement s i e l l e attend un enfant. "Let everything be allowed to do what i t n a t u r a l l y does, so that i t s nature w i l l be sa t i s f i ed" d i t l e Chuang-tzu. Est -ce qu'on a tout d i t quand on a d i t que l a reproduction de 1'espece est un phenomene qui est dans l ' o r d r e des choses? (217) Here the v a l i d i t y of the statement i s questioned along with the concept of "nature" - evidently taken by the Chuang-tzu to be an absolute - asking whether indeed i t exists as a transcendental or un iversa l value, or whether the very concept of nature i s a product of s o c i a l upbringing. While i n keeping with the text, the answer i s not stated ca tegor ica l ly , the i r o n i c tone of the statement undercuts the idea of the "natural" reject ing i t as another phal logocentric device which chooses to ignore the various other p r a c t i c a l and personal factors involved i n motherhood. The concept of 3exual d i f ference i s s i m i l a r l y considered, i n Herv6's l e t t e r , for instance, where she 90 describes a re la t ionsh ip which i s 3een as idea l i n the way the two re f l ec t each other so per fec t ly , u n t i l a sort of "dawning of sexual awareness." As nerve" says: "bien sur i l a un z i z i , ce que j ' a i pleure longtemps sans le savoir , parce que je croyais que c ' 6 t a i t ju3te un c l i che psychanalytique" (69). The recognit ion of the i r phys ica l difference and the s igni f icance of th is d i f ference i3 seen as a form of loss , i n view of the r e s t r i c t i o n s placed upon gender; not, however as a simple jealousy of the other sex: c'est pas juste le maquillage et les poupees ou le penis-power qu'on a un jour pleure, mais de n'etre qu'un des deux et pas les deux a l a fo i s . meme s i y en a qui disent que juste de pas etre 1'autre qui nous f a i t morver de meme et nous degui3er l ' u n en 1'autre en fa isant le f i f i ou le tomboy. (69) Here the text touches on the idea of a common basic androgyny, corrupted and repressed by the soc ia l conventions of the pha H o c racy. Once again, the d iv i s ions established purely according to gender are questioned, by a c r i t i q u e of the jus t i ce and v a l i d i t y of a system which demands the repression o£ uKiirginality, and the subsequent sett ing up of gender-based h ierarchies . V i l l emaire examines the various aspects of sexual re lat ionships as wel l a3 the nature of sexual i ty , the sometimes b i t i n g U3e of irony making her pos i t i on c lear. Questioning stereotypes rather than simply reversing roles ami knowing that the cut-and-dried a t t i tudes towards re lat ionships and sexual i ty 91 are impossibly and ca l l ous ly over - s impl i s t i c (always ignoring the basic i l l o g i c a l and f a l l i b l e character of men and women) the text advocates, on a personal as wel l as on the l i n g u i s t i c and l i t e r a r y l eve l s , a re jec t ion of preconceptions and expectations. This re jec t ion i s doubly l i b e r a t i n g as i t does not erect new standards or stereotypes. A s ign of th i s l i b e r a t i o n i s p r e c i s e l y the writ ing and a r t i s t i c experimentation i n which a l l of the women take part , exploring the ir own c r e a t i v i t y and developing their.own ways of expressing the ir "difference." Their re la t ionsh ip to language i s c r i t i c a l i n the l i b e r a t i o n of both women and men from the phal locracy or pha l locentr ic system, hence the centra l pos i t ion given f i r s t to the act of wr i t ing , through the s e l f -r e f e r e n t i a l i t y of the text, making th i s the s tory of a writ ing rather than the wri t ing of a story, and secondly, to the writer within the text. While t echnica l ly bearing many s i m i l a r i t i e s to the s ty le of 1'e"criture feminine - namely the f l u i d i t y of the prose, the d i scont inu i ty and the p l u r i v o c a l i t y of the narrat ive and the focus on women and the ir bodies - La Vie en  prose r e s i s t s the epithet. By cont inual ly questioning i t s own "val idi ty"; constantly wr i t ing , unwriting and rewrit ing i t s e l f , the text (or texts) subverts the whole system of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s 3et up by an e l i t i s t phal locracy, deconstructing i t s neat, orderly categories ranging from Art to gender and sexual i ty , making room for the feminine and the marginal i n a whirlwind of energy and constructive laughter. 92 Notes i Moi 99-101. 2 The que s t i o n i s d i s c u s s e d a t le n g t h i n Simone de Beauvoir's Le Deuxieme sexe, while women's "essence" i s much e x p l o i t e d i n the w r i t i n g s of HelSne Cixous, to the extent that she has been accused of s e t t i n g the f e m i n i s t movement back i n her c o n c e n t r a t i o n on women as c h i l d b e a r e r s and so on. Works Cited and Consulted V i l l e m a i r e ' s Works Books: V i l l e m a i r e , Yolande. Belle3 de nuit . C o l l . Lecture en velocipede. Montreal: Les Herbes Rouge3, 1983. La Cons te l l a t ion du cvqne. C o l l . Rrose Selavy-Montreal: Les Ed i t ions de l a Pleine Lune, 1985. Meurtre3 a blanc. C o l l . Le Cadavre exquis. Montreal: Guerin, 1974. La Vie en prose. 1980 C o l l . Typo 2. Dir igee par Francois Hebert. Montreal: Les. Herbes Rouges, 1984. A r t i c l e s : "Du Cote hi^roglyphe de ce qu'on appelle le r 6 e l . " L iber te 23. 4 (1981): 62-68. "Ecrire en couleurs." Le Devoir [Montreal] 28 nov 1981: 24. "Entrevue; ficrire: une bande dessinee co(s)mique." Avec Chantal Chevrier . Virus 6. 8 automne 1983. 20-21. "Entrevue avec Yolande V i l l e m a i r e . " With L i s e Maisonneuve. Pr6texte 2. 2 premier trimestre 1987: 9-17. "Entrevue avec Yolande Vi l l emaire . " With Lucie Robert. Voix et Images 33 printemps 1986: 290-405. "Holding Pattern. " In Vouloir l a f i c t i o n . La modernity. 94 2eme Collogue b i s s e x t i l e . Nouvelle Barre du jour 141. sept. 1984. 71-72. "Interview." With Suzanne Giguere and Marie-Claude Trepanier. Lettre3 queb6coise3 40 hiver 1985-86: 50-52. "Pourguoi j ' e c r i s . " Quebec franca i s 33 oct. 1982. C r i t i c i s m of Wil lemaire's Works: Almeras, Diane. "La Vie en prose et en couleurs." Relations 41 fev. 1981: 60-61. Bayard, Caro l ine . "Marie-Josee T h e r i a u l t , Yolande V i l l emaire , Jovette Marchessault." Lettres guebecoise3 29 printemps 1983: 42-45. Beauso le i l , Claude. "Ecriture de v i l l e . " Nouvelle Barre du iour 99 fev. 1981: 74-78. Bourque, Paul-Andre\ "Letters i n Canada, Romans. " Univers i ty of Toronto Quarterly 50. 4 summer 1981: 20-27. Brochu, Andre\ "Des Femmes et des mot3. " Voix et Images 8. 3 printemps 1983: 503-510. Chamberland, Roger. "Yolande Vi l l emaire : La Vie en prose" Livre3 et auteurs guebecois. (1980): 77-78. Chassay, Jean-Francois . "La Strategie du desordre. une lecture de textes montrealais." Etudes francai3es 19. 3 h iver 1983-4: 93-103. 95 Chiche, Anne Ela ine . "La Lutte avec l'ange. Le corps a corps avec le Nom dans l a prose de Yolande Vi l l emaire . De La  Vie prose a La Cons te l la t ion du cygne." Voix et Images 33 printemps 1986: 440-453. Dumont, Itonique. "La Vie en prose. " La Vie en rose 2.1 mars-mai 1981: 46. Dupre, Louise. "Culture: le feminisme de Rrose Selavy." La  Vie en rose 11 mai 1983: 56-57. "Po6sie et feminisme. De l a chair a l a langue." La Vie en rose 11 mai 1983: 54-55. Escomel, G l o r i a . "Lit terature . Pourquoi e c r i r e aujourd"hui?" La Vie en rose 22 dec. 1984-juin 1985: 54-55. Lamy, Suzanne. "Subversion en rose." Feminite, Subversion. E c r i t u r e . Textes reunis et presented par Suzanne Lamy et Irene Page3. Montreal: Ed i t i ons du Remue Menage, 1983: 107-188. Lapierre , Rene. "Lit terature guebecoise: Rose c'est l a v i e . " L iber te . 23. 1 jan . - f ev . 1981: 83-85. Nepveu, P i e r r e . "L'Energie des formes." L'Ecolog ie du ree l . Montreal: Boreal , 1988: 155-179. Paterson, Janet M. "A Poetics of Transformation. Yolande V i l l e m a i r e ' s La Vie en prose." Trans. A. J . Holden Verburg. A Mazing Space: Writ ing Canadian Women  Writ ing. Eds. Sh ir l ey Neuman and Smaro Kamboureli. Edmonton: Longspoon/Newert, 1986: 315-323. 96 Potvin , L i se . "L'Ourobouros est un serpent qui se mord l a queue X2. " Voix et Images. 33 printemps 1986: 406-427. Sabourin, Claude. "Le Cote centripfcde de ce qu' on appelle l ' e c r i t u r e : proses et p o e s i e s v i l l e m & i r i e n n e s , d'un texte a 1'autre." Voix et Images. 33 printemps 1986: 428-439. Salesse, Michele. "Porte ouverte 1: Yolande Vi l l emaire et l e dieu Ptah. 'Du Cote hieroglyphique de ce qu'on appel le le ree l ' et 'Ange Amazone'." Lettres guebecoises 27 automne 1982: 87-88. Staran, Patr ick . "Porte ouverte: Yolande Vi l l emaire : La Vie  en prose: un bison r a v i a 1'ecoute d ' e c r i t u r e s . " Let tres guebecoises 21 printemps 1981: 38-39. Viswanathan, Jacqueline. "Dire le moi." Canadian L i t e r a t u r e 102 automne 1984: 128-130. Theory and C r i t i c i s m Books: Badinter, E l i sabeth . L'Un est 1'autre: des re la t ions entre  hommes et femmes. P a r i s : Edi t ions Odile Jacob, 1986. Barthes, Roland. Le P l a i s i r du texte. C o l l . Points . P a r i s : Edi t ions du S e u i l , 1973. . S/Z. C o l l . Points . P a r i s : Edi t ions du S e u i l , 1970. Beauvoir, Simone de. Le Deuxieme Sexe. P a r i s : Gal l imard, 1949. Bel leau, Andr6. Surprendre les voix: essais. Montreal: 97 Boreal , 1986. Chamberland, Paul . The Courage of Poetry. Trans. Ray Chamberlain. Montreal: Guernica, 1987. Cixous, Helene et Catherine Clement. La Jeune N6e. C o l l . 10/18. P a r i s : Union generale d 'ed i t ions , 1975. Cixous, Helene. La Venue a 1 'ecri ture . En co l laborat ion avec Annie Lec l erc et Madeleine Gagnon. C o l l . 10/18. P a r i s : Union generale d 'ed i t ions , 1977. C u l l e r , Jonathan. On Deconstruction: Theory and C r i t i c i s m af ter Structural ism. Ithaca, New York: C o r n e l l Univers i ty Press , 1982. Derrida, Jacques. Pos i t ions . C o l l . C r i t i q u e . P a r i s : Edi t ions de Minui t , 1972. Spurs: Nietzsche'3 Styles/ Eperon3: l es s ty les de Nietzsche. B i l i n g u a l edi t ion. Trans. Barbara Harlow. Chicago & London: Univers i ty of Chicago Press, 1979. D i d i e r , Beatr ice . L ' E c r i t u r e femme. P a r i s : PUF, 1981. Green, Gayle and Coppeiia Kahn, eds. Making a Difference: Feminist L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m . C o l l . New Accents. Gen. ed. Terence Hawkes. London & New York: Methuen, 1985. Imbert, Patr ick . Roman guebecois contemporain et c l i ches . Cahiers du CRCCF 21. Ottawa: Edi t ions de l ' U n i v e r s i t e d'Ottawa, 1983. Ir igaray, Luce. Ce Sexe qui n'en est pas un. P a r i s : Edi t ions de Minui t , 1977. Lamy, Suzanne. Quand ie l i s ie m'invente: e3sai. Montreal: L'Hexagone, 1984. 98 Moi, T o r i l . Sexual/Textual P o l i t i c s : Feminist L i t e r a r y Theory. C o l l . New Accents. Gen. ed. Terence Hawkes. London & New York: Methuen, 1985. R i f f a t e r r e , Michel . Essais de s t y l i s t i q u e s tructura le : p r e s e n t a t i o n et traductions de Daniel Delas. Nouvelle bibl iotheque sc ient i f ique . Dir igee par Fernand Braudel. P a r i s : Flammarion, 1971. Scarpetta, Guy. L'Impureta. C o l l . Figures . P a r i s : Bernard Grasset , 1985. Showalter, E l a i n e , ed. The New Feminist C r i t i c i s m : Essays on  Women, L i t e r a t u r e and Theory. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985. Weedon, C h r i s . Feminist Pract ice and P o s t s t r u c t u r a l i s t Theory. Oxford: B a s i l Blackwel l , 1988. A r t i c l e s : Agost i , Stefano. "Coup sur coup" Preface to Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles / Eperons: le3 s ty les de Nietzsche. B i l i n g u a l ed i t ion . Trans. Barbara Harlow. Chicago 8= London: Univers i ty of Chicago Press, 1979. Barth, John. "The L i t e r a t u r e of Exhaustion." The A t l a n t i c 220. Aug. 1967: 29-34. Barthes, Roland. "The Death of the Author" i n Imaqe-Miroir- Texte. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: H i l l Wang, 1977. "Le Mythe, aujourd'hui ." Mythologies C o l l . Points. . P a r i s : Ed i t ions du S e u i l , 1970, 193-247. 99 Bel leau, Andre. "Carnavalisation et roman gueb6coi3: mise au point sur 1'usage d'un concept de Bakhtine." Etudes  francaises 19. 3 hiver 1983-84. Cixous, Helene. "Castration or Decapitat ion." Trans. Annette Kuhn. Signs 7. 1 (1981): 36-55. — . "Le r i r e de l a Meduse." Arc 61 (1975): 39-54. Coward, Rosalind. "Are Women's Novels Feminist Novels?" The  New Feminist C r i t i c i s m : Essays on Women, L i t era ture and  Theory. ed. E la ine Showaiter. New York: Pantheon, 1984. 225-240. Hajdukowski-Ahmed, Maroussia. "Le denonceV6nonc6 de l a langue au f6minin ou le rapport de l a femme au langage." Feminite, Subversion, E c r i t u r e . 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"La n o u r r i c r i t u r e ou 1 'ecr i ture d'Helene Cixous, de Chatal Charwaf et d'Annie L e c l e r c . " F6minite, Subversion. E c r i t u r e . Textes reunis et presentes par Suzanne Lamy et Irene Pages. Montreal: Edi t ions du Remue Menage, 1983: 93-105. Kr i s teva , J u l i a . "La Femme, ce n'est jamais pa." T e l Quel 59 automne 1974: 19-26. Makward, C h r i s t i n e . "Structures du s i l ence /du d e i i r e : Marguerite Duras/Heiene Cixous." Poetique 35 sept 1978: 314-324. Todorov, Tzvetan. "Language and L i t e r a t u r e . " The S t r u c t u r a l i s t Controversy: The Languages of C r i t i c i s m  and the Sciences of Man. Eds. Eugenio Donato and Richard Macksey. Baltimore, Md. & London: Johns Hopkins Un ivers i ty Press, 1972: 125-133. Wenzel, Heifene Vivienne. "The Text as B o d y / P o l i t i c s : An Appreciat ion of Monique Wit t ig ' s Writings i n Context." Feminist Studies 7. 2 summer 1981: 264-287. Miscellaneous: Aquin, Hubert. Prochain episode. 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Toye, Wi l l iam, general editor. The Oxford Companion to Canadian L i t e r a t u r e . Toronto, Oxford, New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1983. 

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