French Canadian periodical, 1959–
For a long time newspapers were the only publishers in Canada. Poems, stories, shorter pieces, even novels appeared between news, reportage, advertisements, essays, and columns. The first literary movement in Quebec promoting post-Romanticism, nationalism, religious sensibility, folklore, and biographies published two cultural periodicals: Les Soirées Canadiennes (1861; Canadian evenings) and Le Foyer Canadien (1863; The Canadian hearth). Similar to them was Le Terroir (1909; The soil), founded by members of the École Littéraire de Montréal (Literary school of Montreal). On the opposite side was Le Nigog (1918), Modernist, open-minded, artistic, Parisian. Several years later, Les Idees (1935; The ideas), with its book reviews and classical criticism, was overtaken by the young, left-wing, Catholic, personalist La Relève (1934; The relief) and La Nouvelle Relève (1941; The new relief).
No journal or magazine is connected with the two important postwar literary or artistic groups: the Automatistes, whose leader was painter Paul-Émile Borduas, author of the manifesto Refus global (1948; Global refusal), and l’Hexagone, a cooperative workshop of young French-Canadian poets who would soon become the first true Quebecois writers, propelled by Gaston Miron, who began publishing poetry in 1953. During this time, the most influential journals among students and intellectuals were Cité Libre (Free city), founded in 1951 by Canada’s future Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and other lawyers, newspapermen, or trade unionists, and Amérique Française (French America), founded in 1941 as a wide laboratory of creative writing.
Liberté (Liberty) was founded in 1959 by Radio-Canada and National Film Board producers Hubert Aquin, André Belleau, Jacques Godbout, Fernand Ouellette, and editor JeanGuy Pilon, who were or would soon be poets, novelists, and essayists. This new generation is highly representative of the so-called Quiet Revolution in the Province of Quebec. All friends, they were well-educated, cultured, modern readers, travelers, and members of the media. Liberté was neither school nor convent, but tavern, club, café.
Politically Liberté is centrally placed between the liberal, federalist, new Catholic Cite Libre and the separatist, socialist, atheistic, secular Parti Pris (1963–68; We affirm).
Liberté’s contributors are freelance journalists more interested in arts, literature, and communications than in economics, Marxism, and other ideologies. They prefer their own fancy to intellectual vogue. They are acquainted with the wider world—Paris, New York, Algeria, Israel, Brazil, and so on—but they live, think, and write in Montreal. Open to the world through several issues, articles, and translations, Liberté is not an openair theater—it has a basement, walls as well as doors and windows.
Writers on the staff include poets (Ouellette, Pilon) and novelists (Aquin, Godbout); all of them are essayists. Until 1969, no one was a professor or scholar. Andre Belleau would be the first, followed in the 19705 by young graduates from European (French) universities such as Fran^ois Ricard and François Hébert, who became editors of Liberté after the long reign of Pilon and before that of Marie-Andree Lamontagne, the current editor.
Liberté published issues about language, cinema, television, history, politics, and philosophy from a free, inventive, literary point of view. Jokes, paradoxes, parodies, and polemics are preferred to seriousness and heavy erudition. Professional critics and writers act as well-informed amateurs: Gilles Marcotte on music, Pierre Vadeboncoeur on painting, Jacques Brault on everyday life in town and country. Liberté has become a center, a laboratory for chronicles, essays, and essayisme in theory and practice.
Most of the best collections of essays produced by publishers HMH, l’Hexagone, and Boreal were first columns or articles in Liberté: for instance, Fernand Ouellette’s Les Actes retrouvés (1970; Rediscovered acts) and Écrire en notre temps (1979; Writing in our time); and Andre Belleau’s posthumous Surprendre les voix (1986; To catch the voices), in which he brings together fiction and essays. The younger generation—La
Génération lyrique (1992) according to François Ricard’s title, a multibiography or general description of anonymous baby-boomers, is represented by Ricard himself (La Litterature contre elle-même [1985; Literature against itself]) and sharp, controversial Jean Larose’s La Petite Noirceur (1987; The small darkness) and L’Amour du pauvre (1991; Love of the poor). Both Ricard and Larose read and write about society and social discourse, as well as reading and writing novels. This is the spirit of Liberté.
Beaulieu, André, and Jean Hamelin, La Presse québécoise, des origines à nos jours, Quebec City: Presses de l’Université Laval, 10 vols., 1973–90
Bélanger, André-J., Ruptures et constantes: Quatre Idéologies du Québec en éclatement:
La Reléve, la JEC, Cité Libre, Parti Pris, Montreal: HMH, 1977
Le Devoir issue on Liberté’s 25th anniversary, 5 November 1983
Ducrocq-Poirier, Madeleine, editor, La Revue Liberté: Actes du colloque organisé par le Centre International d’Études Francophone de l’Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne et le Centre de Coopération Interuniversitaire Franco-Québécoise, Montreal: L’Hexagone, 1990
Écrits du Canada Français issue on journals, 67 (1989)
Fortin, Andrée, Passage de la modernité: Les Intellectuels québécois et leurs revues, Quebec City: Presses de l’Université de Laval, 1993
Gauvin, Lise, “Parti Pris” littéraire, Montreal: Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1975
Gauvin, Lise, “Les Revues littéraires québécoises de l’université à la contre-culture,” Études Françaises 11, no. 2 (1975):161–83
Mailhot, Laurent, “L’Action de Liberté,” in his Ouvrir le livre, Montreal: L’Hexagone, 1992
Major, Robert, “Parti Pris”: Idéologies et littérature, Montreal: HMH, 1979
Revue d’Histoire Littéraire du Québec et du Canada Français issue on journals, 6 (1983)
30 Ans de “Liberté”: Index des noms (1959–1989), Montreal: University of Montreal Department of French Studies, 1990
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