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(October 5, 2000, Gazette)

The honour is ours

Photo ã Johanne Mercier 2000

Antonine Maillet

By Beth Ryan
The Senate has announced that Memorial will confer an honorary doctorate on Acadian novelist and playwright Antonine Maillet at the fall convocation on Oct. 20.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1958, Dr. Maillet has become a prolific and critically-acclaimed writer, publishing more than a dozen novels and as many plays, a number of which have been translated into English. In the 1970s, she taught folklore and literature at Laval and Montreal universities and later taught at American universities.

Born in the Acadian community of Bouctouche, New Brunswick, Dr. Maillet studied at the Université de Moncton, completing a BA and later an MA with a thesis on Gabrielle Roy. She continued her studies at the Université Laval, earning a PhD in literature in 1970. Her dissertation, Rabelais et les traditions populaires en Acadie, catalogued over 500 archaic phrases and figures of speech from 16th century French that are still used in the Acadian communities of Canada’s Eastern provinces.

In much of her writing, Dr. Maillet recounts the stories of the Acadian people in their own unique dialect. Her 1971 play La Sagouine, comprised of a series of dramatic monologues by an old Acadian washerwoman, introduced Acadian culture and language to a wide audience. The play was performed in both French and English throughout North America and Europe and the written text sold more than 100,000 copies.

Her next published work, Don L’Orignal (1972) also received an enthusiastic response from readers and critics, winning Dr. Maillet the 1972 Governor General’s Award for Fiction (French). She continued to write novels and plays throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, publishing her most recent novel Chronique d’une sorcière de vent in 1999.

Dr. Maillet has received many honours, including the Prix Goncourt (1979), Grand Prix littéraire de la ville de Montréal (1973), Le Prix Québec-Paris (1975), and more than 25 honorary doctorates. She has been named a Companion of the Order of Canada (1976), an Officier des Arts et des Lettres de France (1985), an Officer of the Ordre National du Québec (1990), and is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.

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