Brossard, Nicole (Vol. 115)
Nicole Brossard 1943–
French Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist.
The following entry presents an overview of Brossard's life and career through 1997.
Nicole Brossard played a pivotal role in the development of a postmodern literary movement in Quebec which focused on gender and language. As co-founder of the avant-garde periodical La Barre du Jour and the feminist collective Les Têtes de Pioche, Brossard helped to create a dialogue in Quebec poetics which affected a generation of writers. Eventually Brossard gained an international reputation as a feminist theorist as her works were translated into English, German, Italian, and Spanish.
Born in Montreal, Brossard attended several different schools, including the University of Montreal. In 1965, she published her first group of poems in Trois—a collection of poetry which also featured Michel Beaulieu and Micheline de Jordy. That same year she co-founded La Barre du Jour, a literary journal devoted to the fusion of social and political analysis and the creative process. She taught from 1969 to 1971 before devoting herself to writing full time. Brossard's published work includes poetry, novels, and essays on feminist and literary theory. In 1976, she co-founded the radical feminist newspaper Les Têles de Pioche. In 1991 she received the Athanase-David Prize of Quebec for her body of work.
Brossard's career has had three distinct phases. In the 1960s she attempted to overcome the tendency in Quebec nationalist poetry to portray women as a mere representation of the land. The main focus of her poetry was similar to that of other 1960s writers in Quebec: portraying the country and its spatial features. However, Brossard took a new approach by using the human body and physiological features to map out history. She used language as a tool to explore new dimensions of being. In her poems, Brossard disrupted traditional rules of language, including syntax and French gender rules. In the 1970s, the second phase of her career, Brossard continued to write poetry, but also began experimenting with the novel. Her Un livre (1970; A Book) examines the construction of characters and plot as surface constructions ac-cessible only through the acts of reading and writing. To Brossard, literature does not need to represent reality, but takes on a life of its own. Asserting that writing is research, therefore a hypothesis-generating act, not a reality-representing one. Brossard combines fiction and theory in her poetry and novels. She believes in the power of language to liberate the individual and to restructure social institutions. Le Centre Blanc (1978) is characteristic of the poetry of this period, with syntactical subversion and a lack of traditional grammatical order. The third phase of her career tackles issues of sexual difference. The focus of Brossard's work has increasingly narrowed to the topics of feminist and lesbian politics. L'Amèr (1977; These Our Mothers) is both a search for new language and an exploration of the responsibilities of motherhood. This work, in conjunction with Le Sens apparent (1980; Surface of Sense) and Amantes (1980; Lovhers), attempts to overcome patriarchal censorship and celebrate a lesbian Utopia. Amantes is a collection of poetry dealing with lesbian love and the emotion of thought. Picture Theory (1982) reworks these ideas in a complex theoretical way. By developing combinations of meanings, the reader must engage in the creation of the text. Le Désert Mauve (1987: The Mauve Desert) takes up the issue of translation of language, and how translation is an act of transformation.
Some reviewers of Brossard's work complain that it is too complicated and difficult to understand. Critics assert that the intellectual nature and difficulty of Brossard's work makes it elitist and inaccessible to the masses. Marguerite Anderson admits that "while reading Nicole Brossard is invigorating, it is not easy." Much of the discussion surrounding Brossard's work centers on her theories of politics and literature. Louise H. Forsyth states that "Brossard writes with the assumption that both the personal and the poetic are political." Many reviewers point out Brossard's unique subversion of traditional syntax and narrative technique. Whether in complete agreement with her politics or her approach, most reviewers agree with Brossard's contributions to the literature of Quebec. Forsyth asserts Brossard's importance, saying, "Her works and activities have served to redefine Quebec letters and culture so effectively that her voice and the voices of many other women speaking and writing autonomously out of women-centered space are being heard and heeded."
Mordre en sa chair [To Bite the Flesh] (poetry) 1966
L'Echo bouge beau (poetry) 1968
Suite logique (poetry) 1970
Un Livre [A Book] (novel) 1970
Sold-out, étreinte/illustration [Turn of a Pang] (novel) 1973
Mécanique jongleuse [Daydream Mechanics] (poetry) 1973
French Kiss: étreinte-exploration (novel) 1974
La Partie pour le tout (poetry) 1975
La Nef des sorcières [with Marie-Claire Blais, Marthe Blackburn, Luce Guilbeault, France Theoret, Odette Gagnon, and Pol Pelletier; A Clash of Symbols] (plays) 1976
L'Amèr: ou, le chapitre effrité [These Our Mothers, or The Distintegrating Chapter]...
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SOURCE: "Subversion Is the Order of the Day," in Essays on Canadian Writing, Nos. 7/8, Fall, 1977, pp. 17-25.
[In the following essay, Bayard compares Brossard's earlier work to her later writing, tracing her growth as a writer.]
It has been said about Québécois writers that they start writing earlier and produce more than their English Canadian or European counterparts, as if the inner pressures and the cultural motivations which sustain them are intensely productive. Whether or not this generalization is valid, it holds true for Nicole Brossard. In 1965, when she was 22, her first volume of poetry, Aube à la saison, was published, and in that same year she...
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SOURCE: "Interview with Nicole Brossard on Picture Theory." in Canadian Fiction Magazine, No. 47, 1983, pp. 122-35.
[In the following interview, Brossard discusses the form and major themes of her novel Picture Theory, and its relationship to her other work.]
[Canadian Fiction Magazine:] Firstly, why did you return to an English expression by an Austrian writer, Wittgenstein, in a Québecois novel that deals with language?
[Brossard:] In Amantes, I had already used the expression "Picture theory" for its intriguing, aesthetic qualities, if I may use those terms. It's an expression that fascinated, seduced me. On the one hand...
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SOURCE: "The Development of a Lesbian Sensibility in the Work of Jovette Marchessault and Nicole Brossard," in Traditionalism, Nationalism, and Feminism: Women Writers of Quebec, edited by Paula Gilbert Lewis, Greenwood Press, 1985, pp. 227-39.
[In the following essay, Rosenfeld compares the "great contributions [of Nicole Brossard and Jovette Marchessault] to the development of a lesbian sensibility in the literature of Quebec."]
Until the rise of the women's liberation movement, lesbianism as a theme had no real existence in the history of literature. From the age of Sappho in the sixth century B.C. to the beginnings of a lesbian culture in the Paris of the early...
(The entire section is 4562 words.)
SOURCE: "Women of Skin and Thought," in The Women's Review of Books, Vol. IV, No. 4, January, 1987, p. 16.
[In the following review, Andersen discusses the feminist aims of Brossard's French Kiss and Lovhers.]
Nicole Brossard is one of the leading writers of Quebec. From a feminist literary viewpoint she is probably the most important one: she is an innovative writer who is also a radical feminist. Questioning established cultural patterns and systems, her texts—prose, poetry, theory and often a mélange of the three—have since the seventies been showing Quebec writers the way to modernity. Brossard's writing is literary theory as well as political...
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SOURCE: "Feminism and Postmodernism," in American Book Review, Vol. 10, No. 2, May-June, 1988, pp. 8, 20.
[In the following review, Godard discusses Nicole Brossard's Le Désert mauve and Gail Scott's Heroine and asserts that "It will be hard for [other writers] to surpass the brilliance of the writing of Gail Scott and Nicole Brossard in their critiques of representation and of narrative."]
Especially in Quebec, feminists have played an important role in theorizing postmodernism through their intervention as editors of the prominent periodicals La nouvelle barre du jour and Spirale, of which Nicole Brossard and Gail Scott were founding...
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SOURCE: A review of Lovhers and Le Désert mauve, in Canadian Literature, Nos. 122-123, Autumn-Winter, 1989, pp. 190-93.
[In the following review, Forsyth states that in Brossard's Lovhers and Le Désert mauve she "writes with the assumption that both the personal and the poetic are political."]
Nicole Brossard published Amantes in 1980. Except for D'arcs de cycle la dérive, a limited edition poem and engraving, this was her first book of poetry following the publication of the retrospective Le Centre blanc in 1978. She was widely recognized by then as the major radical feminist and post-modern writer in Quebec....
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SOURCE: "i, a mother / i am other: L'Amèr and the Matter of Mater," in Studies in Canadian Literature, Vol. 16, No. 2, 1991, pp. 17-38.
[In the following essay, Bok asserts that in Brossard's L'Amèr, she "disarms phallogocentric language, disarms such words as 'mother' and 'woman' and 'figure' so that they can no longer he used as masculine weapons."]
Nicole Brossard calls L'Amèr a book of combat, and indeed the (s)wordplay begins with the title—one word that suggests three: la mère (the mother), la mer (the sea), and l'amer (the bitter). The English translation These Our Mothers by Barbara Godard cleverly...
(The entire section is 7185 words.)
SOURCE: "Modernity and Lesbian Identity in the Later Works of Nicole Brossard," in Sexual Practice/Textual Theory: Lesbian Cultural Criticism, edited by Susan J. Wolfe and Julia Penelope, Blackwell, 1993, pp. 199-207.
[In the following essay, Rosenfeld discusses Brossard's Amantes and Picture Theory to show that "Nicole Brossard's postmodernism is linked inextricably to her lesbian-feminist vision of the world."]
Although there is no unique style that characterizes the work of all lesbian writers, it is not surprising that Nicole Brossard, the most famous lesbian poet of contemporary Quebec, should also be "resolutely modern" in her textual practice. A...
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SOURCE: "The Enigma of Writing," in Belles Lettres, Vol. 9, No. 3, Spring, 1994, pp. 6-7, 9.
[In the following review, Parker argues that Brassard's Picture Theory and Mauve Desert "are fine samples of how Brossard integrates the language of current scientific theories and technological advances into an intuitive, utopian vision of a more just future for women, lesbians, and other marginalized groups."]
Thanks to two fairly recent translations, American readers have access to major works of prose fiction by one of Québec's most provocative writers, Nicole Brossard. Picture Theory, a complex, challenging, exuberant, and erotic response to Joyce and...
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SOURCE: "An Interview with Nicole Brossard: Montreal, October 1993," in Yale French Studies, No. 87, 1995, pp. 115-21.
[In the following interview, Brossard discusses her relationship with feminism and fiction.]
[Huffer:] I would like to begin by talking about your work both as a writer and a feminist. Since the 1970s you have been a part of the feminist movement as a poet, novelist, editor, essayist. Could you put the history of these various activities in a contemporary context?
[Brossard:] The poet, the novelist, and the feminist are still very active. I am still trying to answer questions about what it means to be a contemporary subject in...
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SOURCE: "Producing Visibility for Lesbians: Nicole Brossard's Quantum Poetics," in English Studies in Canada, Vol. 21, No. 2, June, 1995, pp. 125-37.
[In the following essay, Godard discusses Brossard's use of quantum theory in her discussion of visualization and lesbian politics in Picture Theory.]
Vision, passion, reading, a mathematics of the imaginary—these key terms from the opening stanzas of "The Vision" section in Nicole Brossard's long poem Lovhers interweave the formal and thematic concerns more fully developed in her 1982 fiction, Picture Theory. The epigraph to the hologram version of the text, written in the future anterior of 2002 and...
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SOURCE: "From Lesbos to Montreal: Nicole Brossard's Urban Fictions," in Yale French Studies, No. 90, 1996, pp. 95-114.
[In the following essay, Huffer asserts that "Brossard's oeuvre distinguishes itself from an entire Sapphic tradition of lesbian writing by demystifying nostalgia rather than celebrating it."]
Helen, my grandmother, is one hundred-and-one years old. Having never remarried since her husband died over thirty-five years ago, she dines and plays bridge with the other elderly residents of the group facility where she lives in Toledo, Ohio. It's funny how women endure. Like a lesbian enclave, the place is virtually without men. I think of this as some...
(The entire section is 6337 words.)
SOURCE: "Region/Body: In? Of? And? Or? (Alter/Native) Separatism in the Politics of Nicole Brossard," in Essays on Canadian Writing, No. 61, Spring, 1997, pp. 1-16.
[In the following essay, Verwaayen discusses the role of separatism in the politics set forth by Brossard in her writing.]
"What kind of message is this?" was one feminist response during a CBC round table (aired on "Prime Time Magazine" in prereferendum October 1995) in reaction to propagandist remarks made by Lucien Bouchard in a recent "yes"-side campaign linking reproduction and the sovereignty project in Quebec. While Bouchard's alienating comments exemplify a centuries-old validation of women through...
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Anthony, Elizabeth. Review of Mauve Desert, by Nicole Brossard. Books in Canada XIX, No. 8 (November 1990): 47.
Asserts that the reader is "frequently enriched by [Brossard's] gambles [in Mauve Desert]; at times, however, her philosophical abstractions so dematerialize the real that we lose the necessary obstruction and grounding of objects' provident solidity."
Baehler, Aline. "Traversée du Désert." Canadian Literature, No. 132 (Spring 1992): 177-79.
Reviews Brossard's A tout regard in French.
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Brossard, Nicole (Vol. 169)
Nicole Brossard 1943-
Canadian poet, novelist, essayist, director, editor, and playwright.
The following entry presents an overview of Brossard's career through 2001. For further information on her life and works, see CLC, Volume 115.
One of the most outspoken and innovative figures of late-twentieth-century Québécois literature, Brossard is an experimental and avant-garde writer, numbered among the foremost representatives of literary modernité, and regarded as a leading theoretician of écriture au féminin—women's writing—in French-speaking Canada. Openly and unapologetically political, Brossard's writing stresses her radical feminist beliefs, embracing her lesbianism and offering a literary celebration of the woman's body while promoting a sustained attack against the traditional orthodoxies of the dominant, patriarchal language, social systems, and cultural values. Additionally, Brossard's strong reaction against conventional views of poetry and fiction as mimetic representations of objective reality has become a central and defining theme in her writing—which values transgression and forbidden feminine desire—viewing these as integral elements in the creation of a radical, utopian, modern, and woman-centered vision of literature and society.
Brossard was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1943. Educated at the Collège Marguerite-Bourgeois in her youth, she later attended the Université de Montréal, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in literature in 1965. That same year, Brossard published her first collection of verse, Aube à la saison, in the volume Trois—which included poetry by Michel Beaulieu and Micheline de Jordy—and co-founded the literary journal La Barre du jour, which published poetry by the significant figures of the avant-garde poetry scene in Quebec, including Brossard's own experimental verse. Brossard continued her education into the late 1960s and early 1970s, obtaining pedagogical certification and teaching briefly at secondary schools before opting to devote her full attention to a literary career. The birth of her daughter Julie and a new awareness of her lesbianism in the early 1970s shaped Brossard's emerging literary identity and helped to define the political motivations that would characterize her subsequent career as a writer and activist. She began to publish a steady stream of poetry and prose, which expanded upon the ideas suggested in her novel Un livre (1970; A Book) and her poetry collection Le Centre blanc (1970). In 1976 she co-created the radical feminist magazine Les Têtes de Pioche. By this time, Brossard had joined a community of avant-garde feminist writers and activists in Quebec, which included Marthe Blackburn, Marie-Claire Blais, Odette Gagnon, Luce Guilbeault, Pol Pelletier, and France Théoret. Among the products of this artistic collective was the theatrical production La Nef des sorcières (1976; A Clash of Symbols), for which Brossard contributed “L'Écrivain,” a monologue on the creative process of the writer. In 1977 she co-directed the documentary film Quelques féministes américaines (Some American Feminists) with Luce Guilbeault and Margaret Wescott. Later that year, Brossard was elected to the first executive board of the Union des Écrivains Québécois, a literary organization designed to define and protect the ethical and economic rights of its constituents. She subsequently served as the group's vice-president between 1983 and 1985. Meanwhile, Brossard continued her increasingly prolific literary output in the 1980s with such novels as Picture Theory (1982) and Le Désert mauve (1987; Mauve Desert). By the 1990s, Brossard had become an icon of the radical, urban feminist movement in Quebec, and continued to write, edit, and speak about such issues as postmodern literature, semiotic theory, and the awakening of feminine consciousness and lesbian desire.
Among Brossard's early collections of poetry, Aube à la saison and Mordre en sa chair (1966) are thought to reflect the influence of contemporary poets Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, Alain Grandbois, and Anne Hébert, although they also demonstrate Brossard's movement away from the landscape focus then prevalent among Québécois writers. Her third volume, L'Écho bouge beau (1968), exhibits a more assured and individual control of poetic language, introducing many of the erotic and body-centered themes that Brossard has subsequently explored throughout her literary oeuvre. The collection also demonstrates her developing interest in semiotics and linguistic signification associated with such French poststructuralist theorists as Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida. Beginning with L'Écho bouge beau, Brossard also began a process of experimentalism in her writing, seeking to divorce her work from the misrepresentation of dominant ideologies, particularly those linked with patriarchy and its manifestations in language. In her subsequent poetic works, including Suite logique (1970), Le Centre blanc, and Mécanique jongleuse (1973; Daydream Mechanics), Brossard continued to expand and develop this effort. Le Centre blanc endeavors to displace the conventional ordering of syntactic elements such as subject, verb, and predicate in order to multiply and expand the range of signification and meaning in poetic language. Additionally, these works demonstrate Brossard's interest in the seductive and desire-laden dimensions of writing, as well as its subversive potential. Installations: Avec et sans pronoms (1989) and the prose poem La Nuit verte du Parc Labyrinthe (1992; Green Night of Labyrinth Park) offer thorough examinations of language, sexuality, subjectivity, and representation and uses such themes to suggest multivalent layers of meaning.
Brossard's narrative texts, which often feature a mélange of poetry and prose, generally dismiss traditional plotting and schemes of characterization. Un livre focuses on a small group of acquaintances and lovers whose movements, actions, and gestures form the structural center of the work and contribute to its themes of liberation, autonomy, and simultaneity. Brossard's second novel, French Kiss: étreinte/exploration (1974; French Kiss; or, A Pang's Progress), shows more of a concern with the emotions and physical sensations of the main characters, rather than conforming to traditional notions of plot or narrative. The novel follows Marielle and four other underground revolutionaries who create a short-lived utopian community, successfully staving off outside reality and Montreal's authorities before their experiment is destroyed by police intervention. Evidencing the influence of the French nouveau roman and other experimental fiction of the twentieth century, French Kiss subverts traditional modes of psychological characterization, instead offering a deep focus on the characters's movements, smell, texture, skin, and hair. Brossard's lesbian-feminist viewpoint and its consequent critique of patriarchal society is the driving force behind L'Amèr ou, le chapitre effrité: fiction théorétique (1977; These Our Mothers; or, the Disintegrating Chapter), a work that probes the psycho-social dynamics of the relationships between mothers and daughters. Another defining element of Brossard's prose is its focus on sexuality, particularly in the novels Amantes (1980; Lovhers) and Le Sens apparent (1980; Surfaces of Sense). Lovhers ostensibly takes place at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in New York City, though the work itself is more specifically a mixture of erotic poetry and utopian prose focused on the lesbian body. Drawing upon technology for its central image, Picture Theory—the term is borrowed from the theoretical work of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein—nevertheless critiques and transgresses notions of linear, scientific logic. Its central focus is the daily repression and potential liberation of feminine desire, which Brossard visualizes in the symbolic contexts of the hologram—a construct that employs laser light to create a seemingly animate, three-dimensional image in space. Brossard uses this image as an abstracted reference to the mystery of the feminine and of a woman's limitless potential for interpretation. In a departure from Montreal, the setting of most of her fiction, Brossard favors the symbolically suggestive desert of the American Southwest in her postmodern novel Le Désert mauve, a text that plays with categories of writing, reading, and translation. Its first portion recounts the adventures of an alienated and rebellious fifteen-year-old girl, Mélanie Kerouac, detailing her high-speed drives through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. In the novel's second section, Mélanie's narrative is transformed into a book written by an author named Laure Angstelle. In the third and final section of the volume, a woman named Maude Laures discovers Angstelle's long forgotten work and decides to translate and rework the story under the title Mauve, l'horizon. More fictionally accessible than Brossard's earlier novels, Baroque d'aube (1995; Baroque at Dawn) explores the theme of feminine imaginative desire as it follows the efforts of three women—a writer, a photographer, and an oceanographer—to understand and interpret the creative process.
Since the early 1970s, Brossard has been widely recognized as a principal figure among North American feminist intellectuals and writers. Her unique poetic voice, radical politics, and provocative interpretation of lesbian poetics have positioned Brossard as a central figure in the avant-garde movement in late-twentieth-century Québécois literature. While some commentators have criticized her fiction for its experimental and non-traditional treatment of plot and character as well as its heavily meta-literary content, many contemporary critics have praised Brossard's writing as demanding, multifaceted, and richly suggestive. Amid those undisturbed by Brossard's open challenge to existing social, cultural, literary, and political institutions, her creative and theoretical work has been regarded as among the most esteemed in contemporary Francophone literature.
Aube à la saison (poetry) 1965
Mordre en sa chair (poetry) 1966
L'Écho bouge beau (poetry) 1968
Le Centre blanc (poetry) 1970
Suite logique (poetry) 1970
Un livre [A Book] (novel) 1970
Narrateur et personnages (radio play) 1971
Mécanique jongleuse [Daydream Mechanics] (poetry) 1973
Sold-out: étreinte/illustration [Turn of a Pang] (novel) 1973
French Kiss: étreinte/exploration [French Kiss; or, A Pang's Progress] (novel) 1974
Mécanique jongleuse suivi de masculin grammaticale (poetry) 1974
La Partie pour le tout (poetry) 1975
*La Nef des sorcières [A Clash of Symbols; with Marthe Blackburn, Marie-Claire Blais, Odette Gagnon, Luce Guilbeault, Pol Pelletier, and France Théoret] (play) 1976
L'Amèr ou, le chapitre effrité: fiction théorétique [These Our Mothers; or, the Disintegrating Chapter] (novel) 1977
Quelques féministes américaines [Some American Feminists; director; with Luce Guilbeault and Margaret Wescott] (documentary film) 1977
D'Arcs de cycle la dérive (poetry) 1979
The Story So Far 6/Les Stratégies du réel [editor] (prose) 1979
Amantes [Lovhers] (novel) 1980
Le Sens apparent [Surfaces of Sense] (novel) 1980
Picture Theory (novel) 1982
Double Impression: poèmes et textes 1967-1984 (poetry) 1984
Journal intime; ou, Voilà donc un manuscrit (journal) 1984
Domaine d'écriture (poetry) 1985
L'Aviva (poetry) 1985
La Falaise (radio play) 1985
La Lettre aérienne [The Aerial Letter] (essays) 1985
Mauve [with Daphne Marlatt] (poetry) 1985
Character/Jeu de lettres [with Daphne Marlatt] (poetry) 1986
Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse (radio play) 1986
Correspondence [with Michèle Causse] (radio play) 1987
Le Désert mauve [Mauve Desert] (novel) 1987
Sous la langue/Under Tongue (poetry) 1987
À tout regard [with Daphne Marlatt] (poetry) 1989
Installations: Avec et sans pronoms (poetry) 1989
La Subjectivité des lionnes (poetry) 1990
Typhon Dru (poetry) 1990
Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec (1677-1988) [editor; with Lisette Girouard] (poetry) 1991
Langues obscures (poetry) 1992
La Nuit verte du Parc Labyrinthe [Green Night of Labyrinth Park] (poetry) 1992
Baroque d'aube [Baroque at Dawn] (novel) 1995
Vertige de l'avant-scène (poetry) 1997
Elle serait la première phrase de mon prochain [She Would Be the First Sentence of My Next Novel] (poetry) 1998
Au présent des veines (poetry) 1999
Musée de l'os et de l'eau (poetry) 1999
Hier: Roman (novel) 2001
*Brossard contributed the monologue “L'Écrivain” (“The Writer”) to this collaborative drama.
SOURCE: Brossard, Nicole. “Poetic Politics.” In The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy, edited by Charles Bernstein, pp. 73-82. New York: Roof Books, 1990.
[In the following essay, Brossard outlines her views on writing, desire, language, and reality, considering the political element of each.]
I have divided my presentation into two parts. The first part has to do with the body of writing, its motivations, its energies. The second part has to do with the references and values that surround us and the kinds of linguistic reaction they call for when we disagree with them. I say when we disagree with them because I don't believe that one becomes...
(The entire section is 4417 words.)
SOURCE: Gould, Karen. “Nicole Brossard: Beyond Modernity or Writing in the Third Dimension.” In Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec, pp. 52-107. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1990.
[In the following excerpt, Gould evaluates Brossard's poetry volumes Suite logique and Le Centre blanc, and particularly her novel Un livre, as key texts in the formulation of a new, experimental literary modernity in Quebec.]
To imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
(The entire section is 7327 words.)
SOURCE: Bishop, Neil B. “Installations.” Canadian Literature, no. 135 (winter 1992): 158-60.
[In the following review, Bishop offers a positive assessment of Installations, calling the work “a joy.”]
It is paradoxical but stimulating to read these two books [Installations and Corps de glorie] together. The authors seem to share little either as poets or individuals, with the exception of Montreal (and while Brossard is a long-time Montrealer, [Juan] Garcia lived there only from 1957 to 1967, although he has continued to publish there since). And although metaphysical preoccupations are present in some of Brossard's large body of work, they...
(The entire section is 959 words.)
SOURCE: Malin, Irving. Review of Mauve Desert, by Nicole Brossard. Review of Contemporary Fiction 12, no. 1 (spring 1992): 158.
[In the following review, Malin comments favorably on Brossard's “subversive, otherworldly” novel Mauve Desert, admiring its play with perception, language, and reality.]
The epigraph to this wonderfully constructed novel [Mauve Desert] is by Calvino: “Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be.” The epigraph suggests that reading is an “adventure”—an approach to some final meaning. But it also implies that this adventure is somehow dangerous—there may not,...
(The entire section is 411 words.)
SOURCE: Brossard, Nicole, and Janice Williamson. “Nicole Brossard: ‘Before I became a feminist, I suppose I was an angel, a poet, a revolutionary. …’” In Sounding Differences: Conversations with Seventeen Canadian Women Writers, by Janice Williamson, pp. 59-72. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993.
[In the following interview, Brossard discusses her feminism and political motivation in relation to her literary works.]
[Williamson]: Would you reflect on a comment you made during a 1975 Quebec conference on women and writing? You said, ‘For that which speaks wants at the same time to condemn the law that calls for its repression, that which is...
(The entire section is 5507 words.)
SOURCE: Green, Maria. Review of Baroque d'aube, by Nicole Brossard. World Literature in Review 70, no. 4 (autumn 1996): 905-06.
[In the following review, Green discusses the plot and thematic content of Brossard's novel Baroque d'aube, noting its glorification of women and dismissive depiction of male characters.]
At daybreak, Cybil Noland, the middle-aged écrivaine, heroine, and narrator of Baroque d'aube, brings to orgasm an unknown woman, picked up in the hotel's elevator. She learned in her youth to look straight into the eyes of women, and the beautiful young girl responded. Reader, don't put down the book after this first paragraph!...
(The entire section is 577 words.)
SOURCE: Brossard, Nicole, and Beverley Daurio. “Patriarchal Mothers: Nicole Brossard.” In The Power to Bend Spoons: Interviews with Canadian Novelists, edited by Beverley Daurio, pp. 42-8. Toronto: Mercury Press, 1998.
[In the following interview, Brossard discusses her feminist theory of writing and explains the linguistic effects she created in her novel Mauve Desert.]
[Daurio]: Among others, you have often referred to Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein in your work. Who else has influenced your writing, and who do you think people should be reading?
[Brossard]: I make a distinction between people who have influenced you and people...
(The entire section is 2379 words.)
SOURCE: Moyes, Lianne. “Nothing Sacred: Nicole Brossard's Baroque at Dawn at the Limits of Lesbian Feminist Discourses of Sexuality.” Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 70 (spring 2000): 28-63.
[In the following essay, Moyes examines how Baroque at Dawn uses the baroque genre to “explore new vocabularies and new discourses of lesbian sexuality.”]
RESISTING THE BAROQUE
Although the term “Baroque” surfaces occasionally in interviews with Nicole Brossard and in her essays and fiction from the mid-1970s onward, she resisted using the term to qualify her writing until she published the novel Baroque at Dawn1...
(The entire section is 14129 words.)
SOURCE: Knutson, Susan. “Text: In Which the Reader Sees a Hologram in Her Mind's Eye.” In Narrative in the Feminine: Daphne Marlatt and Nicole Brossard, pp. 155-68. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2000.
[In the following essay, Knutson studies Brossard's feminist vision of woman as it is symbolized by a three-dimensional, holographic image in her novel Picture Theory.]
La langue est ce qui nous permet d'acheminer l'image mentale vers la pensée.
—Nicole Brossard, Accès à l'écriture
The first edition of Picture Theory (1982) has a design on the bottom...
(The entire section is 10238 words.)
SOURCE: Holbrook, Susan. “Delirium and Desire in Nicole Brossard's Le Désert mauve/Mauve Desert.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 12, no. 2 (summer 2001): 70-85.
[In the following essay, Holbrook explores the suggestive relationships among reading, writing, translation, interpretation, and desire illustrated in Brossard's novel Mauve Desert.]
“le ravissement” dit L. pour saisir le sens d'une expérience mentale où fragments et delire de l'éclat traduisent une...
(The entire section is 6026 words.)
Brossard, Nicole. “Interview with Nicole Brossard on Picture Theory.” Canadian Fiction Magazine, no. 47 (1983): 122-35.
Brossard discusses the form and major themes of Picture Theory and the novel's relationship to her entire body of work.
Brossard, Nicole, and Daphne Marlatt. “Only a Body to Measure Reality By: Writing the In-Between.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 31, no. 2 (1996): 5-17.
Brossard and Marlatt discuss their thoughts and observations on the centrality of the body in relation to their writing.
Diehl-Jones, Charlene. Review of Green Night of...
(The entire section is 552 words.)