Hubert Aquin Linda Leith - Essay

Linda Leith

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Hailed today as one of the major Canadian writers of the twentieth century, as a literary saint and as a national hero, Hubert Aquin was immediately recognized as an important new writer when his first novel, the powerfully angry Prochain Episode was published in 1965. With Trou de Mémoire (1968) and L'Antiphonaire (1969) his reputation was firmly established within Quebec. A Prix de Québec and a refused Governor-General's award were the prelude to Quebec's most prestigious literary prize, the Prix David, which was awarded to Aquin in 1972 when he was 43 years old. He was already a cult figure for members of Quebec's political and artistic avant-garde when he committed suicide in 1977, and his following has increased both in number and in conviction since that date….

The main character in Hamlet's Twin [Aquin's fourth and final novel] is Nicolas Vanesse, a Montreal actor who, as the novel opens, is in the middle of rehearsals for a TV production of Hamlet in which he plays Fortinbras, Prince of Norway…. [Early] in the story [Nicholas] decides to give up acting and produce his own film based on recent events in his life. The novel is thus also a screenplay, complete with dialogue and camera directions as well as numerous authorial asides and explanations. This screenplay, which many a québécois cinéaste must have dreamed of putting on film, chronicles vividly and sometimes confusingly the...

(The entire section is 525 words.)