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The Whole Wide World

{Dr. Neil Bishop}
Dr. Neil Bishop

Translated by Dr. Neil Bishop
In rural Quebec in the years before the Silent Revolution (1960-1966), children enthusiastically test the boundaries of the world which surround them and, in so doing, create new dimensions in their own life that will ultimately be part of an entirely different worldview.

Dr. Neil Bishop of the French and Spanish department continues his scholarly research into the world of human experience as illuminated by the collection of short stories by French-Canadian author Robert Lalonde. Dr. Bishop's translation of this short story collection, The Whole Wide World (original title, Le vaste monde), garnered him commendation in the 2001 Translation Competition organized by the British Comparative Literature Association and the British Centre for Comparative Literature.

Currently, Dr. Bishop is exploring the several meanings of the collection's title as reflected in the short stories. He describes the connection between the whole new world of human experience the children encounter naturally as they mature, "that of sexuality and love, of war and death," and the whole new world, different from that of their ancestors, that these particular characters in 1950s Quebec are themselves creating. In addition to reacting to the established traditions, stories and superstitions cherished by their parents, the children, the principal characters, are "consciously, actively agents in quest of a whole wide new world" whose birthing is influenced by the "pivotal age" of puberty as well as the discovery of the "vaste monde." The children are full of a "questing curiosity," said Dr. Bishop. They are members of a generation that will see massive changes on a societal level, and are "aware of a distance between them and the values of their traditional rural, Catholic Quebec parents."

The stories illustrate the hints of the "vastness" of the world which reach them even in secluded Quebecois villages, through vibrant characters like Jos the Trinidadian shoe-maker and harmonica player, and the carnival which arrives every summer. The stories abound with rich description, poignant observations and powerful emotions. The intricate details of life as experienced by the young children in Lalonde's stories capture the ethos of this generation and its desire to "run ... fly ... and leap into the galaxies."

Thanks to Dr. Bishop's translation, a whole new audience is now able to enjoy the description of this desire as well.

[Image of Book Cover]

{Memorial University of Newfoundland}