The Duchess and the Commoner

By Michel Tremblay
Translated by Sheila Fischman

The Duchess and the Commoner
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(This third volume in the Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal—an epic series of novels which imagines the lives of the characters of Tremblay’s plays—deals with an explicitly gay thematic: Tremblay’s metaphor for the Québécois desire for a more glamorous identity ... Read more


Overview

(This third volume in the Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal—an epic series of novels which imagines the lives of the characters of Tremblay’s plays—deals with an explicitly gay thematic: Tremblay’s metaphor for the Québécois desire for a more glamorous identity on the world stage. )

This is the third volume in Michel Tremblay’s six-volume Chronicles of the Plateau Mont Royal, an epic series of novels which imagines, in prose, the lives of the characters of Tremblay’s plays, in which each of them acts out their own personal drama: their loves, their disappointments, their travails, their agony and their ecstasy. It is in the novels, however, that these characters are seen in their context of time and space: the neighbourhood in which Tremblay and his extended family lived and grew up.

The Duchess and the Commoner focuses on Albertine’s brother, Édouard, brother-in-law to ‘the fat woman’ and uncle to Marcel, and to the ‘fat woman’s’ son. In ths volume, Édouard launches his forays into the 1940’s world of Montréal show-business and creates his own astonishing role within it. As with all the novels in this series, a certain sense of wonder, even magic, emanates from the grandmother, Victoire, which in this episode is seen flowing through Édouard to his nephew, the brilliant and disturbed Marcel.

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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