A Thing of Beauty

By Michel Tremblay
Translated by Sheila Fischman

A Thing of Beauty
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March, 1963. Winter has launched its final assault on Montreal. The Fat Woman, Thérèse, Édouard, Pierrette, Marcel, all the star-crossed characters of Tremblay’s Chronicles of Plateau Mont-Royal are here again, 20 years later. Marcel, now 23, learns that his Auntie Nana—The ... Read more


Overview

March, 1963. Winter has launched its final assault on Montreal. The Fat Woman, Thérèse, Édouard, Pierrette, Marcel, all the star-crossed characters of Tremblay’s Chronicles of Plateau Mont-Royal are here again, 20 years later. Marcel, now 23, learns that his Auntie Nana—The Fat Woman who is here finally named—is gravely ill and her days are numbered. How will he, with his exaggerated sensitivity, his visions, his ongoing struggle with “reality” pit his fertile imagination against this inexorable march of death? In five epiphanic visions that take us from a nineteenth-century London pub to a reworking of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, Marcel uses his gift of the creative imagination to break the eternal spiral of new beginnings, and to thumb his nose at despair and resignation.
Presented here, side by side, is Tremblay’s fictionalized account of the death of his own mother, so lovingly enacted in his new play, For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again. In what becomes a coda to his great Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal cycle of novels, Tremblay creates, with grace and tenderness, a redemption and transcendent grandeur for these familiar and beloved characters: A Thing of Beauty.

Michel Tremblay

A major figure in Québec literature, Michel Tremblay has built an impressive body of work as a playwright, novelist, translator, and screenwriter. To date Tremblay’s complete works include twenty-nine plays, thirty-one novels, six collections of autobiographical stories, a collection of tales, seven screenplays, forty-six translations and adaptations of works by foreign writers, nine plays and twelve stories printed in diverse publications, an opera libretto, a song cycle, a Symphonic Christmas Tale, and two musicals. His work has won numerous awards and accolades; his plays have been published and translated into forty languages and have garnered critical acclaim in Canada, the United States, and more than fifty countries around the world.

Sheila Fischman

Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Sheila Fischman was raised in Ontario and is a graduate of the University of Toronto. She is a founding member of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and has also been a columnist for the Globe and Mail and Montreal Gazette, a broadcaster with CBCRadio, and literary editor of the Montreal Star. She now devotes herself full time to literary translation, specializing in contemporary Québec fiction, and has translated more than 125 Québec novels by, among others, Michel Tremblay, Jacques Poulin, Anne Hébert, François Gravel, Marie-Claire Blais, and Roch Carrier.Sheila Fischman has received numerous honours, including the 1998 Governor General’s Award (for her translation of Michel Tremblay’s Bambi and Me for Talonbooks); she has been a finalist fourteen times for this award. She has received two Canada Council Translation Prizes and two Félix-Antoine Savard Awards from Columbia University. In 2000, she was invested into the Order of Canada and, in 2008, into the Ordre national du Québec, and, in 2008, she received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize for her outstanding contributions to Canadian literature. She holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Ottawa and Waterloo. Fischman currently resides in Montréal.

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