Franco-American Literary Event - May 22 - Lewiston Public Library
The recently published Franco-American anthology Canuck and Other Stories will be the focus of a free public program scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today, May 22, in Callahan Hall of the Lewiston Public Library.
The book's editor Rhea Côté Robbins and translators Sylvie Charron, Jeannine Bacon Roy and Madeleine Roy will discuss and present selected readings from the three works included in the book: Canuck, by Camille Lessard Bissonnette (1883-1970); La Jeune Franco-Américaine (The Young Franco-American) by Alberte Gastonguay (1906-1978); and Françaises d'Amérique (Frenchwomen of North America) by Corinne Rocheleau Rouleau (1881-1963).
Herself a Maine author, Robbins came across these texts a few years ago while doing research in preparation for teaching a course entitled Franco-American Women's Experiences. In reading them, she realized that they provided uniquely inspiring images of and perspectives on the lives of North American French women of past eras and recognized them as seminal works of fiction forming a rare body of literature of the Franco-Americans who immigrated/emigrated to the United States. These writings were all penned in French, however, and Robbins wanted them to be equally accessible to those who cannot read French, as is the case with many of the younger generation Franco-Americans. “As Franco-Americans, we have a rich and long literary tradition,” says Robbins, pointing to these particular writings as a vital part of that tradition.
So Robbins secured translators with a knowledge of and sensitivity to the nuances of North American French and then compiled the results into this anthology, which made its way into bookstores and libraries earlier this year.
The first of the book's offerings, Canuck, reflects the immigration experience from a young woman’s point of view. La Jeune Franco-Américaine, which is set in Lewiston and was first published by the Lewiston French language newspaper press, Le Messager, in 1933, is described by Robbins as a romance demonstrating “how to fall in love Franco-American style.” The last of the three texts in the anthology, “Françaises d’Amérique,” is a one-act play which features the little-known heroines who helped settle Quebec, or – as it was called at the time – New France. As its author states in the preface: “We have often discussed the major feats and accomplishments of the [male] French colonists, but we have left their 'better halves' in semi-darkness. I believe that it is time to introduce these French women pioneers.”
Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase at Tuesday's event. The Lewiston Public Library is located at 200 Lisbon Street/Rte.196 at the corner of Pine Street in downtown Lewiston. More information is available by calling the library at 784-0135, ext. 210.