07 June 2013

William Johnson: Literary anglophobia

Opinion: Literary anglophobia

In his opinion piece “What we can learn from literature” (June 7), Julius Grey lists many classic Quebec novels that he values and then says: “Several years ago, William Johnson did a disservice to Quebec literature by publishing a book dedicated to proving its xenophobic and ultra-nationalist nature.” (Grey did not name my book, which was published in French in 1991. It was called Anglophobie made in Québec.)
Grey asserts, without quotation or analysis: “Nothing could be further from the truth … Most of the [Quebec] classics express universal values. Describing them as anti-English, or refusing to see any justification for their affirmation of French Canada, is nothing short of perverse.”
I don’t know what credentials Grey claims. I studied for seven years at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, obtained an MA in French literature while studying under Ernest Gagnon, the expert on Quebec’s literature, and wrote a 480-page book in which I surveyed Quebec’s literature from the 1840s to 1990, with thousands of quotations. Grey rhymes off 16 titles and a few more authors’ names, but without genuine analysis or a single quotation. We get only affirmations.

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