La Scouine has 80 ratings and 6 reviews. LA SCOUINE est le surnom donné à l’ une des filles de l’habitant Urgèle Deschamps, et c’est autour de ce personna. La Scouine has 80 ratings and 6 reviews. Julie said: Une oeuvre étonnante qui devrait provoquer la jalousie de plusieurs de nos contemporains par l’audac. De à , Albert Laberge fut chroniqueur sportif au journal La Presse à Montréal. Mais il y fut aussi, simultanément, critique d’art. Membre de l’.

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Critics have been unanimous both in identifying the importance of naturalism in Albert Laberge’s La Scouine and in linking his work with the fiction of Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant. La Scouine scouie been most often compared scojine Zola’s La Terre because each work is concerned with a dark depiction of rural life. Unlike Zola, however, Laberge does not create large and cohesive patterns of action, be they generational, seasonal or historical.

These contrasts originate, in part, in the differences between the short story and novel structures, Other differences are also important. Sensuality is absent from La Scouine. There is no human violence comparable in scale to the sadistic murder of old Fouan in La Terre or to the hideous mutilation of the grocer in GerminalAlso, Laberge is far more pessimistic than Zola, who tends to show, even in the midst of despair, a very tenuous hope of resolution.

Harry Levin goes so far as to say of Zola that his “pessimism is a trait acquired through confrontation with harsh realities, whereas his optimism seems innate.

La Scouine d’Albert Laberge by Lorianne Foisy on Prezi

La Scoulne ‘s structure is, to a great extent, the product of its protracted composition. The book was written over a long period of some fifteen to seventeen years. The short story structure permits and emphasizes concentration on detail rather than on large patterns. If the form and tone of Laberge’s work complement the short stories of Maupassant, the reader encounters some of the most striking parallels between the two authors in Maupassant’s numerous stories about Norman peasants.

These rustic tableaux have often been discussed in terms of their crude harshness. In them the writer frequently develops the themes of avarice, brutality and primitivism through a representative study of character and a skillful ear for the dialect or patois of the region.

These tales furnish “la peinture des moeurs rustiques de la Normandie. Both groups are characterized by a laconic patois and both share a common, avaricious and suspicious nature so aptly crystallized in Ringuet’s description of the priest in Trente arpents:. In La Scouine, Laberge displays little of Maupassant’s comic sense. Other stories in Maupassant on peasant themes consistently exploit the grotesque. Laberge does not possess the same command of language and form as Maupassant, nor does he work on a large canvas like Zola.

La Scouine

This technique expresses the grotesque not in the fantastic or fanciful, but in the quirks of the morbid and subnormal. The use of the grotesque, so important to later French-Canadian fiction, brought down on Laberge the shocked opprobrium of the church when several chapters of La Scouine were published in the reviews Le Terroire and La Semaine in Both were preoccupied with the survival and development of French Canada and they gave voice to these concerns in works which brought them great popularity.

In contrast to their descriptions of scenes and characters, the iconoclastic perspective and technique of Laberge stand out in stark relief. Two examples substantiate this difference. The Deschamps’ kitchen in La Scouine, burdened with silence and dinginess, is no longer the emblem of vital community as it was in Les Anciens Canadiens:.

Moreover, Laberge’s characters are diminished and brutalized by their labours, unlike the hero in Jean Rivard, who, through work and integrity, comes to symbolize the utopian continuity of rural French-Canadian Catholicism – conservative, hard-working and pious:.

Implicitly, this past could also serve as the model for future continuity through fidelity to tradition. The literary structure creating and issuing from such a perspective was, of course, romance, the pattern involving the elevated drama of representative characterization, conflict, affirmative resolution.

In the novel’s beautiful simplicity of language and structure, Maria becomes the Holy Mother of Quebec, the symbolic vessel of salvation to whom the annunciatory voices speak:.


One cannot be sure that, before the completion of La Scouine inLaberge was familiar with Maria Chapdelainefirst published in the Parisian review Le Temps in It has been argued that La Scouine was the first work of fictional realism to have appeared in French Canada.

Les Anciens Canadiens and particularly Maria Chapdelainefor all the romance elements in them, are also famous for detailed scenes or tableaux of verifiable authenticity.

Rather, it is the innovative, grotesque technique of La Scouine which is remarkable and which can be examined in terms of intention and point of view as they are revealed in the book’s initial paragraphs. A comparative approach is helpful to this discussion through brief reference to the other works that have already been mentioned. Jean Rivard first addresses the reader directly in a manner which, for all its good humour, is basically homiletic.

Each work thus establishes a context in its first paragraphs. La Scouine’s initial and sustained context is oppressive. The knife blesses and cuts equally. The setting of Laberge’s book is appropriately lugubrious, isolated and brutalizing. The characters have been victimized primarily by their cruel environment.

La Scouine and her brother Charlot, returning from the fair, come upon a farmer scything and singing. The description of the land is coloured by recurring pathological images, which suggest disease and death: Laberge seems to suggest that the grotesque distortions of life and environment are deadly parts of a brutalizing and destructive interdependence. Dissociated from a normal productive cycle, the land becomes a place where neither crops nor men flourish, but are stunted, abused and misshapen.

The distorting and oppressive effect of La Scouine depends a great deal upon the description of repulsive physical characteristics. The first chapter introduces three characters who embody increasing degrees of ugliness. Finally, it is the castrator Baptiste Bagon, most alienated from life, who is most physically hideous:. Debasing physical description also renders others repulsive. Paulima receives the nickname “Scouine” because it is the strange children’s word her classmates give her to signify the fact that she reeks of urine.

The priest’s face at one point is red from the cold and is described as “un morceau de viande saignante” p. Other details have the same repugnant effect. Parts of the novel describe events which articulate a cynical comedy of victimization.

Gross revenge is taken on La Scouine by the schoolboys for her having reported their after-school activities.

An old man, begging on his knees in the mud for a miracle from the bishop, only succeeds in being thoroughly splashed by mud as the ecclesiastical carriage passes by. La Scouine cruelly cheats a blind beggar of some of his money.

All of these events are characteristic of a community radically estranged from humanizing conventions and values.

There are two episodes where the grotesque is most powerfully developed, and each episode is concerned with unnatural victimization.

Chapter twelve is about the deaths of animals, first by disease, then by anger, and finally by superstition. This chapter furnishes chilling insights into human psychological pathology. The young peasant boy “le Taon,” himself named after a pestilential insect, comes on a repulsive errand. The violence and excess of this episode recall Maupassant’s story “Coco” in Contes du jour et de la nuit. In both stories, the implicit respect of man for beast is ruthlessly violated by actions which underline and indict what seems to be fundamental human perversity.

In this chapter of La Scouinehowever, the death of the dog is made the most vivid example of abnormal callousness through the detailed, though concise, description of the animal’s struggle to survive after La Scouine has thrown it in the well to drown. The juxtaposition of the well’s darkness to the light of the struggling animal’s eyes is an image of hopeless and unwitting entrapment.

Like one of Maupassant’s stories, “Pierrot,” this episode explores distortion of values in terms of the relationship between man and his animals. The brothers’ idiocy is a counterpart to the physical and spiritual exhaustion around them. They resemble the characters of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre, human aberrations marked by a “grotesque and malignant innocence.

The details in the chapters about the brothers are deliberately graphic. The episode opens with the brutal murder of the chicks by one brother and this is followed by bloody physical punishment. Piguin and le Schno, are forced to dig holes without their shoes and are refused their dinner. Their feet become bloodied and the story’s details are made progressively more morbid and repulsive.


One brother becomes so hungry that he eats the putrefying flesh of dead piglets. La Scouine, previously insulted by the brothers, is cheered at the sight of the coffin. When the wagon arrives at the cemetery, the ground is found to be marshy. The site is described in detail which approaches the necrophilic – ‘Teau s’infiltrait lentement dans le sol, pourissant les cercueils en quelques mots et faisant de la chair humaine une sorte de bouillie fangeuse et infecte” p. In contrast to Laberge’s usual spare diction, this language approaches rhetoric.

Here is is not the recorder, objective and olympian, but rather the advocate, shouting at those who would see and depict rural French Canada as vital, whole and self-renewing. The degree to which Laberge’s work may have influenced the French-Canadian writers who followed him is uncertain. Although extracts from La Scouine and his unfinished novel “Lamento,” along with several short stories, were printed in different periodicals over a period of sixty years, his published books, which appeared between andwere all printed privately.

An average run numbered 75 copies. A theme inherent in their work, as in Laberge’s, is dispossession. The technical vehicle of this theme is the grotesque. Au pied de la pente douce contains elements of farce and the picaresque which are not found in La Scouinebut there is a striking affinity between the two books in Lemelin’s use of an episodic structure and in his exploitation of the grotesque fusion of the human and non-human in his characterization. The first paragraph of the novel sets the tone for this kind of depiction:.

Throughout, the emphasis falls on the fact that the parish is situated below or under and is identified by its proximity to the sewer system and by the parish church which is itself situated in a basement.

To this basement the parishioners also come to be entertained by the bathos of “La Buveuse des larmes. Lemelin belittles his pa through caricature and through exaggeration of the banal. The dark morbidity of La Scouine is present, but not as dominant in Au pied de la pente douce as it is in Laberge’s book. However, in Lemelin’s description of the “basse ville,” one recognizes similarities with Laberge’s evocation of the unrelenting deprivation of an almost sub-human world.

Flora Boucher’s knowledge of female anatomy consists scuoine an image of “une foule d’ovaires au travail” p. In one sense, such description is caricature which emphasizes the extreme ignorance of the laa of Saint-Joseph, but in an equally important way, it is suggestive of their day-to-day diminished existence. In the “Faubourg-Tuyau” p. The irony which marks this kind of brutalized characterization and this kind of prosperity is distinguished to a considerable degree by the grotesque.

Much of Au pied de la pente douce makes effective use of physical detail to underline the individual and collective distortions of the society Lemelin is socuine. In fact, Gaston Boucher is an emblem of the world of the novel:. Like Laberge, Lemelin is heir to the French naturalists and their frequent fascination with the ugly, the morbid and the pathological.

If, unlike Laberge, Lemelin shares with writers like Maupassant a talent for satiric, dark comedy, the context of that comedy rests in a literary tradition which Albert Laberge was the first to appropriate imaginatively to the fiction of French Canada.

Nevertheless, these contemporary writers share with their predecessor a sustained obsession with the theme of dispossession and with the manipulation of the grotesque as a formal embodiment of that theme. All three works are militant in their challenge to the popular rural myths of French Canada, which they use the grotesque to answer.

In addition, the abnormal, the bizarre and the excessive embody an implicit didacticism, a shocking depiction and indictment of spiritual oppression and fear.