Wonderful Stories of the People of the Book – News – University of Sherbrooke

Professors José Vincent and Marie-Pierre Luno publish their Historical Dictionary of Quebec Writers.
Photo: Michel Caron-Ode

Here is the story of two enthusiasts, ten “crazy” specialists, a hundred collaborators and dozens of students who have been carrying out the crazy project for 16 years. Historical dictionary of writers in Quebeca 700-page brick-and-mortar book that doesn’t look like a dictionary, and tells the story of Quebec in an original way.

It is, in fact, a story shaped by the many small stories that Professors José Vincent and Marie-Pierre Lono agreed to tell us.

A collection of prayers, technical guide, recipe book, cheap novel, literary masterpiece or manifesto, the book in Quebec is a mirror of the society we have become, both in producing it and in not producing it. Here are some fragments of the lives of a community of passionate, rebellious people who are talented in a number of professions.

Men and women in all respects

Professor Marie-Pierre Luno.
Professor Marie-Pierre Luno.
Photo: Michel Caron-Ode

It is a story that begins with the first settlers carrying books, often their most prized possessions, in their luggage. The story of these collectors who, out of love for the book, use every means at their disposal to become publishers, printers, and booksellers, using the newspapers they print to promote their books, and their workshop to sell them.

It is also the story of hundreds of people, mostly men, who defied convention to allow the book to exist. Mostly atypical and fascinating paths.

The biggest lesson we learn from these years of research is that a book is much more than a work of literature. The topic of the book is really more complex. There are entire sections of the history of the People of the Book that show the battles they fought, and their stubbornness over the Book’s desire to exist.

Professor Marie-Pierre Luno.

His favorite example is that of the bookseller Heinz-Egon Heinemann.

Berlin bookseller Heinz-Egon Heinemann fled the anti-Semitism of German leaders in 1939, took refuge in Shanghai, and opened a bookshop again only to see himself accused this time of being a spy on Americans’ payroll. After 405 days in prison in China, he finally arrived in Montreal in 1953 and opened his old and used bookstore on Mansfield Street. Its thriving business is frequented by many artists and intellectuals, including Leonard Cohen.

A world of women in the shadows

It is the story of a world long dominated by men, where women mainly played secondary roles before they were finally recognized. Gifted women who had to struggle to find their place and who, by their production, constituted whole sections of the book history of Quebec.

Raymond Simard Martin, one of the first women to work in the publishing business, gave birth to 8 children. There were many women in publishing, secretaries, and clerks, but they left their jobs as soon as they got married. Raymond Simard Martin would work as a freelancer and would look after the archives throughout her life as a mother, ending up founding her own publishing house in the 1980s.

Entering the book trade often through the back door, many women will juggle different tasks and often remain in the shadows despite their exceptional contribution. This is the case of Michel Theriault, writer, editor, proofreader, translator and illustrator, who is distinguished by her versatility and the large number of publishing projects and editorial companies that have benefited from her expertise. A real shadow factor, some of his contributions are surprising.

Between 1942 and 1966, Michel Theriault collaborated in writing, rewriting and revising seven works by her husband, Yves Theriault. She writes manuscripts, corrects and revises some passages, revises narrations, and corrects proofs. for I am answering youAmong other things, she makes stylistic and grammatical corrections, rewrites entire scenes, develops certain segments, and even reshapes the structure of the work.

The theme of liberation… or enslavement

A book is also an organizational system, explains Marie-Pierre Luno. The textbook was used, for example, to learn subjects, but also to train citizens. Of all book professions, including librarians and booksellers, from New France to the present day, we can measure that the book is both an instrument of control and liberation. It is always a vector that can oscillate from one to the other, and sometimes both at the same time. »

An eloquent example: that of religious sects, which produced most of the textbooks at the end of the nineteenth century.e century until the sixties. “In addition to textbooks for reading, mathematics, etc., they publish manuals on how to live and train people, especially young girls. Thus, we will have a whole series of manuals that will teach young girls to be good wives, good queens in the house, ”says José Vincent.

The teacher thinks it is a programmed production to dictate a way of thinking. “Good books” to control people’s morals and behavior. “But it would be a little easy to reduce the role of religious communities in this control of people’s morals, which are nuances. Through them, the book is also a place of fulfillment for women.”

Professor Jose Vincent.
Professor Jose Vincent.
Photo: Michel Caron-Ode

As early as 1786, the Sisters of Charity—also called the Gray Sisters—imported typesetters from France, trained in printing and bookbinding, to meet the training needs of women.

The contribution of religious communities to the world of books lies not only in their production, but also in all the possibilities that this field offers women. Women can have a career, especially an intellectual one. They can become publishers, authors, rather than being confined to the family world.

Professor Jose Vincent.

Quebec culture in the making

What Jose Vincent keeps above all from this long journey of research is the importance of teamwork. “This subject of research, the book, has taken us through individual paths, but we inevitably return to the collective dimension of the work,” Jose Vincent notes.

There is teamwork, but there is also organization of the book sector. “At the beginning of the Quiet Revolution,” says José Vincent, “the government of Jean Lesage decided to emphasize culture and make Quebec something other than a province to crush it.” The People of the Book will see this as an important moment to demand in particular the protection of the domestic production of books. They will be very close to the first Ministry of Culture and will create the Supreme Writers Union Council. In fact, everything that was created at that time survives today and has completely shaped the Quebec book market in a unique way. »

Speaking of editing, the example of bookseller Henri Tranquille, a legend in the world of books, is revealing. Among others, when Paul-Emile Borduas made his official statement universal denial In his library in 1948, Henri Tranquille created a remarkable event and gathered the intellectual community around this symbol of the liberation of the people of Quebec. The universal denial Would such an impact have been made without the rebellious bookseller, for whom freedom of speech was so important?

For Jose Vincent, the influence of the People of the Book is enormous.

In the functioning of society, there are people who act at the level of governance. But the People of the Book are the people of communication, who distribute discourse, information, and ideologies, through all aspects of society: politics, economics, education, and culture.

Bringing Cultures Together: From the Beneficial to the Kind

A means of cultural advancement for a society trapped between two worlds, The Quebec Book of Our Ancestors is first and foremost a product of translation. From the beginning of the English system we shall feel the need to translate books so that French Canadians may defend themselves, and establish their own institutions.

And also, so that they have their own North American culture.

Well known in the cultural community, Romeo Baudry played a major role in the making of popular music between the two wars. What circulated in Quebec around the 1920s was The good song, traditions. Romeo Beaudry decided to translate and publish American songs, thus popularizing the culture between Canada and the United States, and giving access to the American.

Louis Alexandre Belisel and his team appear on the cover of the dictionary.  Tribute to this wonderful character.
Louis Alexandre Belisel and his team appear on the cover of the dictionary. Tribute to this wonderful character.
Photo: Introduction

For his part, Louis-Alexandre Bellelli, the modern nationalist, marked history by producing a masterful work, Canadian French Dictionary, but also by signing and publishing a number of works for the advancement of the nation of Quebec, to give French words to industry.

Bélisle wants its citizens to participate fully in the affairs and development of Quebec. To do this, it will publish several basic technical manuals for North American uses in the fields of construction, automobile, trade, and so on.

An open door to the rest of the story

The development of the book trade in Quebec is amazing. For the two professors, the culmination of 16 years of research that led to the dictionary It opens the door to many other topics, and other topics, starting with the absent. “One of the dictionary’s choices was not to talk about everyone. We chose people who left their mark and people who died,” explains Professor Lono.

The dictionary makes us see all those who are not there and a host of other subjects. It is through this kind of work that we can re-launch the research, illuminating the margins, with the issues of the day as well.

Professor Marie-Pierre Luno.

search that led to Historical dictionary of writers in Quebec It was a huge project, which was also a full school for dozens of research assistants, students of all courses. We trained them and released them into uncharted territories. These people have contributed so much to us, and it gives us great pride to see them sign this book with us,” says Marie-Pierre Luno.


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