The French Canadian Literary Canon

This is my attempt to put together a list of the great works of French Canada.

Author Works Year
Aubert de Gaspé, Philippe-Joseph Les Anciens Canadiens (Canadians of Old) 1863
Nelligan, Émile Selected Poems 1899
Hémon, Louis Maria Chapdelaine 1916
Savard, Félix-Antoine Menaud, maître-draveur (Master of the River) 1937
Ringuet (Philippe Panneton) Trente Arpents (Thirty Acres) 1938
Lemelin, Roger Au pied de la pente douce (The Town Below) 1944
Roy, Gabrielle Bonheur d'occasion (Tin Flute) 1945
Langevin, André Poussière sur la ville (Dust Over the City) 1953
Leclerc, Félix Le Fou de l"Ile (The Madman, the Kite & the Island) 1958
Garneau, Hector de Saint-Denys- Regards et jeux dans l'espace (in Poésies complètes) 1960
Hébert, Anne Poèmes 1960
Kamouraska 1970
Aquin, Hubert Prochain Épisode 1965
Blais, Marie-Claire Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel 1965
Ducharme, Réjean L'Avalée des avalés (The Swallower Swallowed) 1966
Carrier, Roch La Guerre, Yes, Sir! 1968
Floralie, Where Are You? 1969
Is It the Sun, Philibert? 1970
Tremblay, Michel Les Belles-Soeurs 1968
La Grosse femme d'à côté est enceinte 1978
Thérèse and Pierrette and the Little Hanging Angel 1980
The Duchess and the Commoner 1982
News from Édouard 1984
The First Quarter of the Moon 1989
A Thing of Beauty 1997
Miron, Gaston L'Homme Rapaillé (no evidence so far that this has been translated) 1970
Maillet, Antonine La Sagouine 1971
The Tale of Don l'Orignal 1972
Pélagie-la-Charette 1979
Ferron, Jacques Tales from an Uncertain Country 1972
Brossard, Nicole Le Centre blanc: poèmes 1965-1975 (no evidence so far that this has been translated) 1975
Beauchemin, Yves Le Matou (The Alley Cat) 1981
Cousture, Arlette Les filles de Caleb (Emilie) 1985

I used four main sources to pull this list together:

In general, if at least three of the sources thought it was an important work, I thought I ought to read it. Then I ran the list past a few friends who were educated in Québec, to see what they thought. Most people thought it was a reasonable starting point, though I did add a couple of things as a result of those discussions.

With the exception of some of the poetry (Gaston Miron's and Nicole Brossard's), everything is available in English, either directly in my big city Canadian library (Ottawa) or through inter-library loan. Most of the works are relatively short (a lot of them are well under 200 pages), so this is not a huge multi-year project. French Canada does not seem to have produced a Proust - or at least not one who is widely regarded as significant - so working through the list does not involve reading any 4300-page novels.

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Last Updated: 8 January 2010
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