Antonine Maillet

Antonine Maillet is generally recognized as being one half of the literary impetus for the Acadian Renaissance of the early 1970s. (The other half is Ronald Després, who, like Maillet, published his first work in 1958.) Born in Bouctouche, NB in 1929, Maillet attended schools in and around Moncton, then did graduate work at Université Laval, where she received a PhD in 1970. Her doctoral study focussed on the linguistic and folkloric traditions of ancient Acadie. In her 1971 radio play La Sagouine, she put that old culture onto the tongue of a simple but feisty scrubwoman, thereby expressing the soul of a nation. Acadians heard and knew instantly that their struggles had become allegory for defiance and survival. Since that time, Maillet has been the leading writer of Acadie, playing a major role in shaping the collective unconscious of the Acadian people. Acadian history, folklore, and speech are her interests, each raised to epic status in her many novels and plays. While her spirited and colourful depictions of Acadian history and character are well known, however, they are not without controversy, the extent to which they are representative a source of ongoing debate in Acadie. That said, she is revered among her people, lionized in Quebec, and was the first non-European to win the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary award. It can be said without exaggeration that she put Acadie on the world’s literary map. No New Brunswick writer, French or English, has had higher international notice, acclaim, or success. She is to Acadie what Gabriel García Márquez was to Colombia.

For the full Author Page on Maillet, click here.


The linked Author Page contains excerpts from La Sagouine.