UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Le personnage-écrivain dans Les morts de Claire Martin Tremblay, Rose-Marie


There is a two-fold recurrent theme in Claire Martin's literary works. On the one hand, the established power structure as embodied in the patriarchal image is reversed through the exploration of love and female sexuality. On the other, the male-female dynamic is reconstructed in the Martinian female character (in two of Martin's novels this character also happens to be a writer) and a viable mirror-image of the true nature of woman emerges. The writer as fictional character first appears as Gabrielle in Doux-Amer (1960), Martin's first novel, and later as the anonymous narrator in Les Morts (1970), her last. Martin herself says in an interview that the protagonist of Les Morts could be an older version of Gabrielle. Les Morts is essentially a dialogue between two speakers, an anonymous narrative voice and an equally anonymous interlocutor. This aspect and the singular blend of autobiography and fiction which characterizes the novel lead to a number of questions as to its signification and interpretation. An aura of mystery surrounds these anonymous voices as they discuss the past, or rather as the protagonist relates fragments of her past which do not respect chronological order or geographic accuracy. These are further complicated by the relevance of the autobiographical nature of the work, arising from the relationship between the author and the character, and the portrait of the writer which is conveyed. The ensuing discussion leads to several conclusions about the work. The detailed and somewhat ironic treatment of the connection between love and death in Les Morts is in fact a discourse of displacement in which the 'I' of the speaker rebels against patriarchal authority in an 'imaginary' confrontation involving the use of memory as literary device. As a result of this 'confrontation' (mirrored by the second speaker), the 'I' recovers the ability to love and hence to write. The outcome of the process is paradoxical: the discovery of writing as a solution eliminates the need to write for both author and character.

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