"I don't like this city [Montreal].
You can't throw a stone without breaking a church window"
(Mark Twain qut in 57)
in Historical Perspectives:
“North” and No
The Battle of Quebec 1756-1763
Major Dates
the Quebec separatist movement
Features: Two solitudes and St. Laurence Blvd.
1950’s -- Clark Blaise
A Child’s View of Language/Culture Issues in “North”
1970’s ( 1980) –Robert Lepage;
No: Introduction and FLQ
No: Analysis
History: Dates
西。”orphan mentality”
the Quebec separatist
• 1969 -Two
(Quiet Revolution),接管許多教育及社會政
高呼「魁北克自由萬歲」(vivre le Quebec
Language Policy and Referendum
一九七七年︰178 Act強制境內商業招牌一律使用
一九八○年:first referendum,反對者以百分
(Distinct Society)的米奇湖協定(Meech Lake
1995年– 2nd referendum (反對:贊成=50.58:
Montreal’s City map and cityscapes
Three major
and triplexes
or duplexes
with steep
Two solitudes and St.
Laurence Blvd.
Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan
1945 (e.g. Views from the Typewriter)
The French live in the east, the English, in
the west, and the Portuguese, Italians,
Greeks, Chinese, and Blacks in between.
Between the solitudes: clip 12:46
Catholic church: major influence in
politics until Quiet Revolution in 1960’s.
Montreal: Distinct Cultures
Outgoing and friendly: summer of
festivals(fêtes), outdoor café.
“Montreal is a city that loves the
summertime, yet also makes the most of
winter. It is a city whose people enjoy
participating in community events, are
not afraid to try something new, and
have a deep attachment to their
Quebecois cultural heritage” (Sobol
Really open?
Montreal: Distinct Cultures
film and theatre tradition:
1. long theatrical tradition and
experimentation (at least 10 major
theatres now); e.g. cirque du soleil,
Robert Lepage
2. documentary (direct cinema or cinéma
verité) or docudrama.
3. Eat, party and talk a lot. “le gang”
Montreal some features
A lot of tenants
Fete (festivals) – clip 4:45 parties and
language problem Act 187 in Between
the Solitudes
Clark Blaise the migrant writer
Born to Canadian parents in -- at 10, after one
of his father's
North Dakoda, 1940.
frequent business
French-Canadian father:
handsome, extroverted,
charming, and untrustworthy
English-Canadian mother:
upright, resolute and intelligent.
Went to Canada for refuge
-- at 5, following an assault
charge against his father in
Clark Blaise the migrant writer
Started moving at the age of 6 month: He moved
30 times before the 8th grade and attended
25 different schools. He spent his childhood in
Alabama, Georgia, and central Florida, later in
the American midwest, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh,
but always returned to his mother's family in
Winnipeg whenever his father "ran out of work,
or was run out of work, or town" (RA 167).
Montreal 1966 – 1978: 13 years, the longest
of his stay in one place (with his wife Bharati
Clark Blaise’s “self”-creation
in his fiction
His work is usually half-autobiographical
and half fictional.
“Anyone who led a life as tenuous as I did,
fraught with almost daily evidence of
evanescence, is obviously going to be
concerned with establishing a place and a
name and an identity for himself that he
could not have established in life. I did not
ever have a sense of place, or belonging, in
my life. So I had to create it, fabricate it, in
my art.”
e.g. "I was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in
1940.” from the autobiographical fragment
“North” & Resident Alien
"This book is a journey into my
obsessions with self and place; not just
the whoness and whatness of identity,
but the whereness of who and what I
am." (RA 2).
Two "autobiographical fragments“+
four short stories about the character
North: Autobiographical Elements
Went to Canada for refuge at 5, following an
assault charge against his father in Pittsburgh
a French-Canadian father who is handsome,
extroverted, charming, and untrustworthy
and English-Canadian mother: upright,
resolute and intelligent.
Blaise moved around, unlike Porter.
“North”: Starting Questions
How are different races or different
nations set against each other?
What is Phil’s position regarding these
What makes him change?
What does the ending mean?
“North”: Races or Places
Phil in between different conflicting
forces and opinions
the U.S. vs. Canada
English vs. French –
Mick Fortin’s looking for comrades p. 210;
Phil’s father and mother’s argument over
Phil’s schooling p. 212; 213-14;
Pittsburgh vs. Papineau pp. 214;
Therèse vs. American teenagers p. 215
“North”: Catholic school
Phil’s experience of Catholic education:
punishment pp. 213 –14 shame
The society’s conformity and dullness p.
Change: Therèse as tutor:
Apologetics(基督教辯證): searching for
nuns and monks as if they were wildlife
Phil and Therèse
Therèse interested
in English names;
American cultures
pp. 216-17
Find common
interest with
Image Source
Mother against French
Eaton Center, scones and lemon curd,
speaking English;
McGill University
Meeting with Ella, which means a
separation between the mother and the
Ending: insecurities, constraints vs.
youthful love + learning
Robert Lepage
born in Quebec City, Quebec, December 12,
1957. An actor, director of plays and films.
 Style: auteur but not “author” -- his
bilingualism, his explorations into multimedia,
use of theatrical space and impromptu acting,
 Issues: interculturalism and the nature of
language (No), memory, guilt, father-son
relationship, brotherhood, double identity, the
act of creation itself. (source).
e.g. The Seven Faces of Robert Lepage: 1. acting;
writing 10:00; Vinci 12:50
Robert Lepage: Works
Possible Worlds (2000)
No (1998)
Polygraphe, Le (1996)
Confessionnal, Le (1995)
Plays –
Vinci, Hamlet, the
Dragon Trilogy,
and The Seven
Streams of River
Starring in Stardom (2000) Montreal vu
par... (1991) Jesus de Montreal (1989)
Robert Lepage: existential
Le Confessional --the question "Where
do I come from?";
Le Polygraphe -- to examine "What is
No -- to contemplate "Where am I
Possible Worlds -- to discover "What is
my real world?" (Dundjerovic source)
Robert Lepage on
Independence Issue
Sympathetic and critical: e.g. FLQ – idealist but
comical (the insistence on correcting the
language. “To set off a bomb or to advance a
cause”)  more discussion of Michel later
* Unlike most Quebecois artists,
Lepage looks at Quebecois issues from a
broader—cross-cultural-- perspective. e.g. The
Confessional and No. E.g. Pierre and the
translators – the ones to link the East and the
Examples of Interculturalism and
Multiple Language in No
Double-plot (French play with the film)
Sound track crosses over to the next scene
(e.g. end of the invitation scene 30:00-) and
the other scenes (restaurant); images
overlapping (beginning and 5:00)
multiple language – the translators’ scene;
“translator traitor”
 Coexistence,
 Solution of conflicts?
No– Background:
FLQ: Front de Liberation du Québéc
Formed in the wake of Quiet Revolution in 1960’s.
While the majority of nationalists chose the
democratic path of René Lévesque’s Parti
Québécois, at the fringes more militant groups
like the FLQ emerged. The FLQ’s campaign of
bombings and robberies culminated in the
kidnappings in 1970. . .
Influence on literature: In 1963, shortly after the
first wave of FLQ bombings, a group of
francophone writers in their twenties
founded . . .Parti pris, advocating a sovereign
and socialist Quebec.
October Crisis in 1970
• Oct. 5, 1970 -- kidnapped
James Cross, the British trade
•Oct 10 – kidnapped Quebec
cabinet minister Pierre Laporte
and killed him on the 17th.
soldier stands guard at Parliament Hill in Ottawa as security was stepped up because
of terrorist kidnappings in Montreal during the FLQ crisis. Oct. 13, 1970
October Crisis in 1970
•Trudeau invoked War
Measure Act.
• By noon of Oct 16, police
officers arrested more than
450 people suspected of being
FLQ members, even friends of
FLQ members. [e.g.Sophie]
•Cross stayed alive, in return
his kidnappers got safe
passage to Cuba.
No’s Background (2)
The Seven Streams of River Ota and
No -- the characters taken from Act 5,
in which Sophie has an affair with
Seven Streams has the second World
War (concentration camps and
Hiroshima) Madame Butterfly, and 1970
Osaka Expo. as its historical contexts,
while No just used FLQ terrorism and
No: Major Issues
Personal Conflicts and
Survival: Characters with
(or without) Emotional
National Conflicts: FLQ
Cultural Issues
the Use of Symbols
No: the Characters in Osaka
The Canadian characters in Osaka
1. What is Sophie’s problem and how is she
looked at by Walter and Patricia?
2. How do Sophie and Patricia express their
antagonism to each other? (39:00-)
3. How about François-Xavier?
4. How are Hanako and her translator friend
Harold set as a contrast to her Canadian
friends? (Hanako as an “ibakusha”)
5. How do the Canadian expatriates in Osaka view
themselves and Quebecois separatism? (1:06)
No: the Characters in Osaka and Mirror/Photo
Obsession, fantasy, peeping, harmony
No: the Characters in Osaka and Mirror/Photo
Fantasy orientalism
Hanako and Harold
1. Hanako: blind and perceptive;
helpful to Sophie, understanding and sensitive
2. Harold: does not worry about inherited disease
No: the Characters in Montreal
In Montreal – the officers and FLQ members
1. How is Michel different from his
comrades? Why does he insist on
revising the communiqué?
2. And the investigators?
Central symbols and themes -3. Why are the clocks and phone booths
4. The plays within the play?
No on Quebecois Separatism
No – puts FLQ’s faulty idealism in the context
of the problems in human communication and
the issue of survival.
both critical of and sympathetic with Quebecois
The terrorist: trivial concern (routes), betrayal
of his friend, mis-calculation self-destruction.
Michel – a writer
hasn’t written anything
for three years; idealistic
and unrealistic
Reasons: “phrases not
confusing, not French.
Gaps in his
communication with
failure to understand
Bad timing
Government Officers: Trivial,
Comic and Incompetent
miscommunication caused by wrong
estimation and bad-timing
the plays within the film
No play Feydeau’s domestic farce
No and Farce
Farce: superficial patriotism, lack of blood
lineage, an example of colonialism and
superficial culture (Sophie 44:00)
The Japanese play// Hanako: about a woman
who finds her way back to life thanks to her
hero lover.
(vs. Sophie gets no help  one of the
innocent victims)
The Endings
Immediate consequence: miscarriage
and possible sexual harrassment
10 years later: older, richer, calmer and
probably more indifferent
“Common project” -- birthing

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