Heroes in the making. The apprenticeship novel in Quebec between 1930 and 1968

In his preface to the new edition of Gilles Marcotte’s “Une littérature qui se fait”, Jean Larose writes about French-Canadian literature: "Danger, literature in apprenticeship!" (1994: 7) This warning could be accompanied by the following phrase: "Danger, apprenticeship literature". Not only do the novels analyzed by Marcotte portray the trials and errors of a literature in search of itself, they also tell the stories of the upbringing, personal development, and maturation of heroes on the threshold of adulthood. These works, which represent the formation of young protagonists, correspond to a category conceptualized by literary theorists: they are Bildungsroman, or coming of age novels, of which The Years of Learning of Wilhelm Meister (1796) by Goethe embodies the model. In the wake of Marcotte's work, which shows that, during the period from the 1930s to the 1960s, French Canadian literature featured the exploration of its own form, my thesis intends to deepen the idea of "apprenticeship" by showing that several works published in Quebec at a time when a national literature is being built constitute Bildungsroman. Converging study of genres and historical poetics, my thesis successively examines the heroes' learning paths in their religious, didactic, as well as social dimensions, and aims to show that the Quebec Bildungsroman of the period considered follows the evolution of German models, gradually moving away from the Goethean model of Aufklärung to approach that proposed by the German Romantics of Sturm und Drang.

Marilyne Lamer is a PhD candidate in literary studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal. She studied in France and has completed internships in Poland and in the United States. She is particularly interested in representations of the relationships between individuals and society. Her research combines study of genres and historical poetics and is part of a larger movement proposing new readings of Quebec's canon of novels that aim to take it out of the national perspective, long dominant in literary criticism in Quebec. More broadly, her work focuses on 20th century Quebec literature. She also has very strong interest for 19th-20th century German literature.