150+ Canadians Day 97: Antonine Maillet

Image: Paul Labelle via Government of New Brunswick

Antonine Maillet contributed to peace by chronicling the expulsion of Acadians in 1735 in The Great Upheaval.  #Canada150

Antonine Maillet, novelist, playwright, translator and scholar was born in 1929 in Bouctouche, NB .

A prolific writer of more than a dozen plays and almost 20 novels, Maillet published her second play,  Poire-Acre, and first novel, Pointe-aux-Coques, in 1958. Her works celebrate the dialect and heritage of the Acadian people. Maillet’s renown coincides with an Acadian cultural revival, a renewed sense of Acadian cultural distinctiveness and pride. As the author herself says, to recognize her works is to recognize the people to whom she belongs.

She earned a BA (1950) from the Collège Notre-Dame d’Acadie, an MA (1959) from the Université de Moncton, and a PhD in literature from Université Laval in 1970. She taught literature and folklore at Laval. She has also taught at the Université de Montréal, the University of California, Berkeley, the University at Albany, State University of New York, and the Université de Moncton. She has worked for CBC Radio-Canada in Moncton.

After the success of her play La Sagouine (1971; tr. 1979) and the novel Pélagie-la-Charrette (1979), which charts the triumphant return home of the Acadian people after the 1755 expulsion, Maillet dominated contemporary Acadian literature. The latter won the Prix Goncourt, bringing her fame in France, where it sold over one million copies. Maillet has famously remarked that with the publication of the novel she “avenged [her] ancestors.” Maillet’s imaginary universe is rooted in the geography, history and people of Acadia. Her novels, often reworked for the theatre, fuse adventure, desire, frustration, agony and joy to offer a new image of the original Acadia, restructured to fit an epic vision. She

Among her honours and awards:

  • Prix Champlain ((1961)
  • Governor General’s Award (1972)
  • Grand prix du livre de Montréal (1973)
  • Prix France-Canada (1975)
  • Prix des Volcans (France, 1975)
  • Prix littéraire de La Presse (Québec, 1976)
  • Officer of the Order of Canada (1976)
  • Prix des Quatre Jurys (1978)
  • Prix Goncourt (France, 1979)
  • Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques (France, 1980)
  • Lorne Pierce Medal, Royal Society of Canada (1980)
  • Companion of the Order of Canada (1981)
  • Médaille Gloire de l’Escolle (1981)
  • Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Pléiade (Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie) (1981)
  • Ordre des francophones d’Amérique (1984)
  • Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 1985)
  • Officierde l’Ordre national du Québec (1990)
  • Grands Montréalais (1991)
  • Officier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (France, 2004)
  • Order of New Brunswick (2005)
  • Prix Hommage 2010, Soirée des prix Éloizes (Acadie, 2010)
  • Antonine Maillet has received honourary degrees from more than 30 universities in Canada and internationally.

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