Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
In These Festive Nights, Blais combines the technique of stream of consciousness with an omniscient narrator, permitting her to take the reader from the mind of one character to another in a continuous flow of thought and language. She uses repetitive images and descriptions of the characters to make the shifts without interruption to her text or confusion for the reader. Long sentences, often multiple pages in length, broken only by commas, reinforce the ceaseless flow of the work.
The novel depicts a disparate set of characters, all of whom are in some way interconnected, yet all living very different lives socially, economically, and intellectually. There are the wealthy, well-educated (Renata, Claude Mère, and Melanie, Daniel, and their children Samuel, Vincent, and Augustino); the intellectuals and artists (Jacques, Charles, Fréderic, Jean-Mathieu, Caroline, Suzanne, and Adrien); the ill or dying (Renata, Vincent, Jacques, Fréderic, and Jean-Mathieu); the aging (Mère, Renata, Charles, Fréderic, Adrien, Suzanne, Caroline, and Jean-Mathieu); the refugees (Julio, Eduardo, Jenny, and Marie-Sylvie and her brother); the poor African Americans (Pastor Jeremy, Mama, Carlos, Le Toqué, Venus, and Uncle Cornelius); and the homosexuals (Jacques, Tanjou, Luc, and Paul). The characters portray variants of the human condition, all tainted by suffering and death, and attempt to escape, to find happiness or at least peace in life.
(The entire section is 526 words.)
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