Brochu, André 1942-

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BROCHU, André 1942-

PERSONAL: Born March 3, 1942, in St. Eustache, Quebec, Canada; son of Edouard (a microbiologist) and Jeanne (Lacroix) Brochu; married Celine Cadieux (a musician), June 24, 1962; children: Hugo, Xavier. Ethnicity: "Québécoise." Education: College of St. Marie, B.A., 1960; University of Montreal, M.A., 1961; University of Vincennes, doctorate, 1971. Politics: Independent.

ADDRESSES: Home—53 Avenue Wicksteed, Mont-Royal, Quebec H3P 1P9, Canada. Office—University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Educator and writer. University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, professor of literature, 1963-97; full-time writer, 1997—.

MEMBER: Quebec Writers Union, Academy des lettres du Quebec.

AWARDS, HONORS: Prix Gabrielle-Roy, l'Association des littératures canadienne et québécoise, 1989, for La visée critique: essais autobiographiques et littéraires; Deuxième Prix, Radio Canada, 1990, for a short story, "L'esprit ailleurs"; Governor-General's Prize, 1991, for La croix du Nord; Grand Prix, Journal de Montréal, 1993, for La vie aux trousses; Grand Prix, Festival international de poesis, 1995, for Delà.



(With J.-André Constant and Yves Dube) Étranges domaines, foreword by Germaine Guevremont, Editions de la Cascade (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1957.

Privilèges de l'ombre, Éditions de l'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1961.

Délit contre délit, Association générale des étudiants de l'Université de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1965.

Les matins nus, le vent, Éditions Trois (Laval, Quebec, Canada), 1989.

Dans les chances de l'air, Éditions de l'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1990.

Particulièrement la vie change, Noroît (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1990.

Delà, Éditions de l'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1994.

L'inconcevable, Éditions Trois (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1998.

Je t'aime, je t'écris: poèmes, précédé de, Le corps de l'amoureuse, Québec Amérique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.


Adéodat I, Éditions du Jour (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1973.

La croix du Nord (novella), XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1991.

La vie aux trousses, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1993.

Fièvres blanches (novella), XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1994.

Adele intime (novella), XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.

Les épervières, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.

Le maître rêveur: la vie aux trousses II, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1997.

Matamore premier: roman-farce, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2000.

The Devil's Paintbrush, translated by Alison Newall, Dundarn Press (Tonawanda, NY), 2003.


(Editor) La littérature par elle-même (essays), Association générale des étudiants de l'Université de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1962.

(With Jacques Brault and André Major) Nouvelles (short stories), Association générale des étudiants de l'Université de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1963.

Hugo: amour, crime, révolution; essai sur "Les Misérables" (essays), Presses de l'Université de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1974.

(With Laurent Mailhot and Albert Le Grand) Le reel, le réalisme et la littérature québécoise (essays), Libraire de l'Université de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1974.

L'instance critique: 1961-1973 (collected articles), Leméac (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1974.

(With Gilles Marcotte) La littérature et le reste: livre de lettres (essays), Quinze (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1980.

L'évasion tragique—essai sur les romans d'André Langevin (essay), Hurtubise (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1985.

La visée critique: essais autobiographiques et littéraires (essays), Boréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1988.

L'esprit ailleurs (short stories), XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1992.

Le singulier pluriel (essays), Éditions de l'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1992.

La grande langue: éloge de l'anglais (essay), XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1993.

Tableau du poème, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1994.

Roman et énumération de Flaubert à Perec (essays), Université de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.

Anne Hébert: Le secret de vie et de mort (essay), University of Ottawa Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Saint-Denys Garneau: le poète en sursis, XYZ Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1999.

Rêver la lune: l'imaginaire de Michel Tremblay dans les Chroniques du plateau Mont-Royal, Hurtubise (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2002.

Les jours à vif, Éditions Trois (Laval, Quebec, Canada), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including La Crue, Quartier Latin, Lettres québécoises, Voix et Images du Pays, and Voix et Images.

SIDELIGHTS: André Brochu is a prominent French-Canadian writer who has distinguished himself as a poet, novelist, and literary critic. Brochu was born in 1942 in St. Eustache, Quebec. In 1957, while he was still in his mid-teens, Brochu collaborated with J.André Constant and Yves Dube on the verse collection Étranges domaines. He received his undergraduate degree from the College of St. Marie in 1960 and obtained a master's degree from the University of Montreal in 1961, the same year that he published the poetry volume Privilèges de l'ombre, which focuses on the sufferings of a rebellious adolescent. The following year he served as editor of La littérature par elle-même, a collection of essays by writers described by Dictionary of Literary Biography essayist Camille R. La Bossiere as "optimistic secular humanists."

In 1963 Brochu teamed with Jacques Brault and André Major on Nouvelles, a collection of short stories. Among the tales in this volume is Brochu's "Quand je serai grand," in which a rebellious youth rejects his family's Catholicism only to plunge into despair when he fails to find a worthy replacement for his forsaken religion. Eventually the youth realizes a measure of consolation by reading French poet Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell.

Like his rebellious protagonists, Brochu found it necessary to reconcile the often contradictory aspects of life and art. He began to approach his own reconciliation by exploring the Hegelian dialectic, in which the clash of thesis and antithesis leads to synthesis. Brochu's embracing of the Hegelian dialectic is visible in his Délit contre délit, a volume of autobiographical poetry described by La Bossiere as expressions of "a voice at once nostalgic and ironic." These poems, La Bossiere observed, "review Brochu's suspension in paradox, between nihilism and hope, joy and despair." Délit contre délit culminates in a brace of poems in which rebellion is likened to the synthesis of inseparable opposites. For Brochu, the ambiguity of these inseparable opposites is itself an affirmation of life, according to La Bossiere.

Brochu's notion of affirmative paradox is exemplified in Adéodat I, his 1973 novel that lampoons contemporary critical theories—including structuralism and deconstructuralism—and culminates in the advocacy of scatology as a principle means of authentic expression. A succeeding volume, the essay collection L'instance critique: 1961-1973, also serves as an examination of synthesized opposites. For Brochu, according to La Bossiere, unity is essential and positive, while the lack of synthesis or reconciliation—even with regard to seemingly disparate objects or subjects—constitutes a sickness.

Throughout much of the 1980s, in works such as L'évasion tragique—essai sur les romans d'André Langevin and La visée critique: essais autobiographiques et littéraires, Brochu collected his essays on a range of subjects, from his own childhood to his achievements as a literary critic, and from French-Canadian culture to socio-political issues imbedded in Quebec's drive for separatism from Canada. In 1989, however, Brochu broke from this stream of nonfiction to publish the poetry collection, Les matins nus, le vent. He then published La croix du Nord, a novella about a husband whose marriage declines when his wife enters into sexual relations with his best friend. Much of the novel concerns the husband's recollection of the friendship that resulted in betrayal. Critic Norman J. Lamoureux, writing in the French Review, found the protagonist's plight both moving and disturbing, and he called La croix du Nord "a beautifully written, compact work well worth pondering."

Among Brochu's works of the 1990s is Particulièrement la vie change, a volume of surreal, wide-ranging poems. Here the author again examines life's reconciliations and extols the virtues of acceptance and understanding, particularly with regard to his own experiences. Reviewer Adele Sullivan noted in the French Review that Particulièrement la vie change constitutes a "poetic odyssey," one that is "vividly articulated."

Brochu once told CA: "A very important event for me happened during the 1980s. A medication, lithium, allowed me to defeat a terrible illness and to finally realize my ambitions as a writer by giving me access to my imagination. Since then, I have tried to explore my interior reality—in connection with simple reality, which is not so different—and to give a literary existence, even a dimension of universality, to this secret flaw which is my destiny and that of many others. Those in the minority (the insane, homosexuals, the infirm, etc.) know as much and often more of human nature than those who can repose in the comfort of the majority."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 53: Canadian Writers since 1960, First Series, Thomson Gale (Detroit), 1986.


Booklist, September 1, 1993, Norman J. Lemoureux, review of La croix du Nord, p. 43; March 1, 1996, Adele Sullivan, review of Particulièrement la vie change, p. 1126.

Canadian Literature, spring, 1991, pp. 157-159; summer, 1998, Cedric May, review of Particulièrement la vie change, p. 125; summer, 2000, Paul Raymond Cote, review of Le maître rêveur: la vie aux trousses II, p. 94.

French Review, October, 1992, pp. 171-172; May, 1994, pp. 1102-1103; October, 1996, pp. 139-140; March, 1999, Paul Raymond Cote, review of Le maître rêveur, p. 772.

University of Toronto Quarterly, winter, 1999, Roger Chamberland, review of L'inconcevable, p. 401; winter, 2001, Pierre Karch, review of Matamore premier: roman-farce, p. 409; winter, 2001, Nicole Cote, review of Saint-Denys Garneau: le poète en sursis, p. 499; winter, 2001, Janet Paterson, review of Anne Hébert: Le secret de vie et de mort, p. 513.

World Literature Today, summer, 1998, Steven Daniell, review of Le maître rêveur, p. 575.