Jacques Ferron Criticism - Essay

Paul Socken (review date June 1972)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Tales from the Uncertain Country, in The Canadian Forum, Vol. LII, No. 617, June, 1972, pp. 41-2.

[In the following review, Socken remarks on the style and themes of the stories collected in Tales from the Uncertain Country.]

Jacques Ferron is one of Quebec's most highly acclaimed writers, and a translation of some of his short stories by Betty Bednarski makes his writing accessible to an English-speaking audience for the first time.

In Tales from the Uncertain Country, a collection of eighteen short stories, the reader can acquire a representative glimpse of Ferron's very unusual world. Ferron is concerned with...

(The entire section is 882 words.)

Len Early (review date Spring 1976)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fine-Rooted Blossomer," in Essays on Canadian Writing, No. 4, Spring, 1976, pp. 76-7.

[In the following excerpt, Early criticizes Ferron's The Juneberry Tree for containing too many details, but states that "it has beauties enough."]

"I am called Tinamer de Portanqueu. I am not the daughter of nomads or gypsies." So begins Jacques Ferron's brief novel of childhood and childhood's end. First published in French in 1970, it now appears in the "French Writers of Canada" series undertaken by Harvest House to make more Quebec fiction available in English translation. The Juneberry Tree is not self-consciously a story of Quebec: there are no priests,...

(The entire section is 882 words.)

Paul Socken (review date October 1976)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Shared Concerns," in The Canadian Forum, Vol. LVI, No. 665, October, 1976, pp. 33-4.

[In the following excerpt, Socken examines the major themes in Wild Roses.]

In Wild Roses, Jacques Ferron explores the topography of the land inhabited by the sane and the mad and raises questions about some of our society's most fundamental assumptions about those two states. The result is a novel which implies that no map can be drawn to distinguish the two areas, no clearly-defined borders can be established, for they are part of the same country, the uncertain country of the human mind.

The story centres on the Baron, a man whose wife bears him a...

(The entire section is 1206 words.)

Linda Sandler (review date November 1976)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Ferron's Fairy Tale about a Corporate Madman," in Saturday Night, Vol. 91, No. 8, November, 1976, pp. 58-61.

[In the following excerpt, Sandler remarks on the underlying political message in Wild Roses.]

No one takes much notice of a Quiet Revolution, but who can ignore an "apprehended insurrection"? We know instinctively that people who are capable of writing their history with blood are bound to write interesting books, so it's no accident that translations of Québec literature have proliferated since October, 1970. And it's not surprising that English Canadians are interested in Jacques Ferron, the man who interceded between Pierre Trudeau and Paul Rose of...

(The entire section is 936 words.)

Betty Bednarski (essay date 1976)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An afterword to Wild Roses: A Story Followed by a Love Letter, McClelland & Stewart Limited, 1976, pp. 120-23.

[Bednarski is an educator and critic who has translated several of Ferron's works into English, including Wild Roses. In the following essay, she remarks on the theme of insanity in Wild Roses and examines the novel's distinctive qualities.]

By now Jacques Ferron needs little introduction to English Canadian readers. Acclaimed for over a decade in Quebec, he is rapidly gaining the recognition he deserves in the rest of the country. But as a writer he is many-sided, elusive, and Wild Roses may well come as a surprise to those...

(The entire section is 1338 words.)

Donald Smith (essay date 1983)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jacques Ferron: The Marvellous Folly of Writing," in Voices of Deliverance: Interviews with Quebec & Acadian Writers, translated by Larry Shouldice, Anansi, 1986, pp. 83-103.

[In the following essay, based on correspondence and an interview, Ferron discusses his British literary influences, symbolism, character, and the place of Quebec history and legend in his works.]

Interviewing Jacques Ferron seemed at first to be something of a Mission Impossible. I had been told several times that Ferron almost never granted interviews and that, although he was not a complete recluse like Réjean Ducharme, the good doctor was not very fond of talking about his...

(The entire section is 7425 words.)

Ray Ellenwood (essay date 1984)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Translator's Afterword," in The Penniless Redeemer, translated by Ray Ellenwood, Exile Editions, 1984, pp. 339-42.

[In the following essay, Ellenwood discusses Ferron's mixture of the mundane and the fantastic in The Penniless Redeemer.]

'In the beginning is Le Ciel de Québec, our great and only novel of initiation,' writes Philippe Haeck [in Voix & Images, Vol. VIII, No. 3 (1983)]. And he calls the book 'our Bible.' Why? Maybe because it is so inclusive, the most complete account of his uncertain country by a man who seems to know more about it than anyone. It functions almost as a Book of Numbers, but also as gossip, stories told over the...

(The entire section is 1711 words.)

Betty Bednarski (essay date Spring 1985)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Rereading Jacques Ferron," in The Antigonish Review, No. 61, Spring, 1985, pp. 43-9.

[In the following essay, Bednarski comments on the relationship between life and literature in Ferron's works.]

When Jacques Ferron died this spring, I began immediately rereading books of his, some of which had remained unopened on my shelf for several years. It must be a natural reaction to seek to re-establish contact in this way and to re-affirm a bond with a writer who has died. Especially if we have known and loved the man. For me Jacques Ferron the writer had always been inseparable from the man. And I no doubt brought to this most recent reading the particular...

(The entire section is 2774 words.)

Ray Ellenwood (essay date Spring 1985)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Death and Dr. Ferron," in Brick: A Journal of Reviews, No. 24, Spring, 1985, pp. 6-9.

[In the essay below, Ellenwood discusses Ferron's treatment of death in his stories and novels.]

He was obsessed with it; defied it and courted it virtually all his life. His mother died young of tuberculosis, his father committed suicide a few years later, he was tubercular himself and was sent to a sanitarium just after the war. Deciding he wasn't ready for a slow, passive demise, he went over the wall and continued working twenty hours a day, smoking like a chimney, conducting pharmacological experiments on himself, even trying, unsuccessfully, Mithridates' silken escape...

(The entire section is 3366 words.)

Betty Bednarski (essay date 1985)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Selected Tales of Jacques Ferron, translated by Betty Bednarski, Anansi, 1985, pp. 11-6.

[In the following essay, Bednarski remarks on the central place of the tale in Ferron's work.]

Jacques Ferron, winner of the Governor-General's Prize for literature, the Prix France-Québec, the Prix Duvernay and the Prix David, has long been recognized as one of Quebec's foremost writers. Novelist, essayist, playwright, polemicist and, above all, master storyteller, he has begun in recent years to achieve the recognition he deserves outside Quebec, in France and in the rest of Canada.

In spite of his literary fame,...

(The entire section is 1844 words.)

Betty Bednarski (essay date 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jacques Ferron," in Profiles in Canadian Literature, Volume 5, edited by Jeffrey M. Heath, Dundurn, 1986, pp. 121-28.

[In the essay below, Bednarski surveys Ferron's works, focusing on such themes as Quebec-English relations, death, insanity, and alienation.]

There is one title which more than any other sums up the literary universe of Jacques Ferron. It is Contes du pays incertain (Tales from the Uncertain Country), that of the Québec doctor's first book of short stories, which won the Governor General's Prize for 1962 and gained him his first true recognition as a writer. [In an endnote, the critic explains that "[Tales from the Uncertain...

(The entire section is 4588 words.)

Betty Bednarski (review date January-February 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Unfinished Business," in Books in Canada, Vol. 17, No. 1, January-February, 1988, pp. 21-2.

[In the review below, Bednarski remarks on the sense of loss and despair in La conférence inachevée.]

At the time of Jacques Ferron's death in 1985 no major new book by him had been published in Quebec for many years. The silence was troubling and eloquent in the case of a writer whose voice had been resonant throughout the 1960s and '70s. The old books—the fantastical novels, the essays, and the contes, by now living classics—were consistently reprinted, but there was nothing from the present, nothing to indicate that the great work could be continued or...

(The entire section is 1143 words.)