Michel Tremblay Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Although Michel Tremblay is best known for his drama, he is also the author of a number of short stories, film scripts, and television plays; in addition, he translated into French Aristophanes’ Lysistrat (411 b.c.e.; Lysistrat, 1837), Paul Zindel’s And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little (pr. 1967, pb. 1972) and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (pr. 1965, pb. 1971), four short plays by Tennessee Williams, and Dario Fo’s Mistero buffo: Giullarata popolare (pr. 1969, pb. 1970; Mistero Buffo: Comic Mysteries, 1983). He has also published a number of novels, including La Grosse Femme d’à côté est enceinte (1978; The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant, 1981); Thérèse et Pierrette à l’École des saintes-anges (1980; Thérèse and Pierrette and the Little Hanging Angel, 1984); Le Cur découvert (1986; The Heart Laid Bare, 1989; also as Making Room, 1990), and Hotel Bristol: New York, NY (1999). In 1990, Tremblay wrote and published the libretto for an opera, Nelligan, which was produced the same year.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Michel Tremblay is part of a new generation of playwrights that emerged in Quebec during the 1960’s and 1970’s, a time of profound political and cultural change for this province. Led by Tremblay, these writers saw as their primary task the liberation of Quebec culture from the shackles of foreign domination. With very few exceptions, the theater of Quebec to the mid-twentieth century had never treated issues genuinely French-Canadian; it was a theater enslaved to the thematic, stylistic, and linguistic control of “mother” France. With the opening of Tremblay’s Les Belles-surs, at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montreal on August 28, 1968, a new and autonomous Québécois theater was born. Significant partly for its thematic focus on the realities of the working class of Quebec, Les Belles-surs is the first play to be written in the distinctive French of Tremblay’s people—joual. A peculiar mixture of Anglicanisms, Old French, neologisms, and standard French, joual (from the Québécois pronunciation of the French word cheval) is the popular idiom of Quebec and especially of Montreal’s working class. To the French and to Quebec’s cultural elite, joual was a bastard tongue, emphasizing the pitiful nature of Quebec culture. To Tremblay, however, joual was a symbol of identity, a language not to be silenced but to be celebrated for its richness and for its distinctive flavor. To discuss...

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Anthony, G., ed. Stage Voices: Twelve Canadian Playwrights Talk About Their Lives and Work. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978. Canadian playwrights, including Tremblay, discuss their plays and their lives. Index.

David, Gilbert, and Pierre Lavoie, eds. Le Monde de Michel Tremblay. Montreal: Cahiers de Théâtre Jeu, 1993. Presents a series of studies relevant to Tremblay’s entire body of work from Les Belles-surs to Marcel Pursued by the Hounds. In French.

Godin, Jean-Cléo, and Laurent Mailhot, eds. Théâtre Québecois II. Montreal: Bibliothèque Québecoise, 1988. A collection of essays on theater in Quebec. In French.

Massey, Irving. Identity and Community: Reflections on English, Yiddish, and French Literature in Canada. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1994. Provides a section containing criticism and interpretation of Tremblay’s works. Bibliography and index.

Usmiani, Renate. Michel Tremblay. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1982. An analysis of Tremblay’s works and discussion of his life. Bibliography.

Usmiani, Renate. The Theatre of Frustration: Super Realism in the Dramatic Work of F. X. Kroetz and Michel Tremblay. New York: Garland, 1990. A comparative study of the realism in the works of Tremblay and Franz Xaver Kroetz. Bibliography and index.