British Journal of Canadian Studies

Satiric lament for a city: Mordecai Richler's Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!, Bill 101 and Montreal

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2011), 24, (1), 49–67.

Abstract

In the last decade of his life, Mordecai Richler found some of his favourite satirical targets – cultural nationalism, special pleading, injustice and anti-Semitism – fused in the province of Quebec's aspiration for nationhood, especially as that ambition was expressed in 1977's Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language, and its many refinements. This law drastically restricted the use of English in Quebec, violating in outrageous fashion, in Richler's view, the democratic right to free expression of Quebec's non-Francophone minorities. Richler first gained notoriety among the Québécois when he published his criticisms in an article for the New Yorker (1991), which became the book Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Requiem for a Divided Country (1992). The present article first contextualises Richler's satire in the history of Canadian satire, then briefly in Richler's relation to Montreal, and finally in Quebec history with particular reference to language. It proceeds to offer an explication and analysis of Richler's satirical criticisms of Quebec's nationalism and language laws, and, in closing, shows more extensively that embedded in Richler's satirical analysis is a hitherto overlooked prose elegy for his beloved native city of Montreal.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Adam, Dyane. 2007, 'Language and Governance in Canada: The Role of the Commissioner of Official Languages', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 50–6. 'Language and Governance in Canada: The Role of the Commissioner of Official Languages' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Andrew, J.V.. 1988, Enough! Enough French. Enough Quebec (Kitchener, ON: Andrew Books). Enough! Enough French. Enough Quebec Google Scholar

Bélanger, Claude, 2010, 'The Quiet Revolution', http://www2.marianopolis.edu/quebechistory/index.htm Google Scholar

Bogel, Fredric V.. 2001, The Difference Satire Makes: Rhetoric and Reading from Jonson to Byron (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press). The Difference Satire Makes: Rhetoric and Reading from Jonson to Byron Google Scholar

Cardinal, Linda. 2007, 'New Approaches for the Empowerment of Linguistic Minorities: A Study of Language Policy Innovation in Canada Since the 1980s', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 434–59. 'New Approaches for the Empowerment of Linguistic Minorities: A Study of Language Policy Innovation in Canada Since the 1980s' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Dumas, Guy. 2007, 'Quebec's Language Policy: Perceptions and Realities', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 250–62. 'Quebec's Language Policy: Perceptions and Realities' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Finn, Gérard. 2007, 'Official Language Minorities in Canada: A Selected Profile', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 187–95. 'Official Language Minorities in Canada: A Selected Profile' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Frye, H. Northrop. 1960, Introduction to Thomas McCulloch, The Stepsure Letters (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart/New Canadian Library), pp. iii–ix. Google Scholar

Furedy, John J.. 2001, 'A Goading Gadfly: On Mordecai Richler's Social Legacy', Literary Review of Canada (November/December), 6–8. 'A Goading Gadfly: On Mordecai Richler's Social Legacy' Literary Review of Canada 6 8 Google Scholar

Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. 1836, The Clockmaker, or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville (repr. 1995; Ottawa: Carleton University Press). Google Scholar

Leacock, Stephen. 1912, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (repr. 1996; Ottawa: Tecumseh). Google Scholar

Lisée, J-F.. 2007, 'How Quebec Became a North American Region State', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 460–502. 'How Quebec Became a North American Region State' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Lynch, Gerald. 2002, Introduction, Leacock on Life (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), xv–xxviii. Google Scholar

McCulloch, Thomas. 1869, The Letters of Mephibosheth Stepsure (Halifax, HW: Blackadar), CIHM Microfiche no. 49067. Google Scholar

Monnet, Diana. 1970, 'Canada's Official Languages', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 235–49. 'Canada's Official Languages' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Moyer, Norman. 2007, 'The Canadian Heritage Approach to the Promotion of Official Languages', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 317–70. 'The Canadian Heritage Approach to the Promotion of Official Languages' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Newman, Warren J.. 2007, 'The Official Languages Act and the Constitutional and Legislative Recognition of Language Rights in Canada', in Colin Williams (ed.), Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press), 196–234. 'The Official Languages Act and the Constitutional and Legislative Recognition of Language Rights in Canada' Language and Governance Google Scholar

Paris, Erna. 1988, Jews: An Account of their Experience in Canada (Toronto: Macmillan). Jews: An Account of their Experience in Canada Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1968, Hunting Tigers Under Glass: Essays and Reports (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart). Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1971, St. Urbain's Horseman (repr. 1989; Toronto: McClelland and Stewart/New Canadian Library). Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1978, The Great Comic Book Heroes and Other Essays (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart/New Canadian Library). The Great Comic Book Heroes and Other Essays Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1980, Joshua Then and Now (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart). Joshua Then and Now Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1984, Home Sweet Home: My Canadian Album (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart). Home Sweet Home: My Canadian Album Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1989, Solomon Gursky was Here (Toronto: Viking). Solomon Gursky was Here Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1990, Broadsides: Reviews and Opinions (Toronto: Viking). Broadsides: Reviews and Opinions Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1991, 'A Reporter at Large: Inside/Outside', The New Yorker, 23 September, 40–92. Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1992, Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! (Toronto: Penguin). Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Google Scholar

Richler, Mordecai. 1998, Belling the Cat: Essays, Reports & Opinions (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart). Google Scholar

Scott, F.R. 1966, 'W.L.M.K', Selected Poems (Toronto: Oxford University Press), 60–1. W.L.M.K Selected Poems 60 1 Google Scholar

Solway, David, 2003, 'Reflections on Quebec and L'Affaire Richler', Arts & Opinions, 2:3, http://www.artsandopinion.com/2003_v2_n3/solway-2.htm Google Scholar

Steyn, Mark. 2001, 'Mordecai Richler, 1931–2001', The New Criterion, 20:1, 123–8. Google Scholar

Swift, Jonathon. 1725, The Drapier's Letters (Dublin: George Faulkner). The Drapier's Letters Google Scholar

Taucar, Christopher Edward. 2000, Canadian Federalism and Quebec Sovereignty (New York: Peter Lang). Canadian Federalism and Quebec Sovereignty Google Scholar

Williams, Colin (ed.). 2007, Language and Governance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press). Language and Governance Google Scholar

Zola, Émile. 1898, 'J'accuse!', L'Aurore, 13 January 1898, 1. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Lynch, Gerald