CFP: Mordecai Richler Against The World

Concordia University
June 13th-14th, 2019

In 1983, Quebec literary magazine Liberté was calling Mordecai Richler a “parfait salaud”, inaugurating some of the harshest criticism this enfant terrible of Montreal would receive in the following years. What has happened since then for him to become a fixture in the city’s landscape deserving his own gazebo, a mural and the praises of the literary establishment ? Is it that, like a Thomas Bernhard or a Witold Gombrowicz, polemists are easier to deal with after their death? In his novels, articles and non-fiction, Richler’s work has been critical of any kind of group thinking whether it was Jewish, Canadian, Québécois or other. The main character of one of his first novels, Noah Adler in Son Of A Smaller Hero (1955), ended his struggle with a close-minded environment by a will to free himself from identitarian boundaries: “I’ll be a human being” was the answer he gave to his grandfather asking him what he would do with his Jewish heritage. In his last novel, Barney’s Version (1997), Barney Panofsky, out of touch with his own times, attacks everything that might look like affiliation to a group or identity. What can we do with the elusive nature of a body of work that wants to flee the categories we tried to ascribe to it, even to the point of being at times shocking and vindictive? This bilingual conference aims to take a closer look at these contentious aspects of Richler’s work, whether it is from the standpoint of Québécois or Canadian national literatures or in relation to its polemic nature or possibly even the translation issues that it poses.

To participate, please submit a 150 words summary of your planned conference and a short bio-bibliographic note by January 15th 2019.

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Live translation will be available on demand.