Durand, Lucile 1930-
DURAND, Lucile 1930-
PERSONAL: Born November 14, 1930, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; daughter of Donat Durand (a French professor and theater troupe director) and Laurence Bissonnet (a teacher and musician); married Jean Letarte, 1957 (divorced 1981); children: Nik. Education: University of Montreal, M.A. and Ph.D. coursework; attended Sorbonne and Centre d'Etudes de Radio et de Television (Paris, France); holds diplomas in music, library science, and applied linguistics.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Editions du Noroit, 4609, Iberville, Unit 202, Montreal, Quebec H2H 2L9, Canada.
CAREER: Author and teacher. Has worked as a writer and researcher for radio, television, and cinema; taught creative writing at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and University of Quebec, Montreal.
Koumic, le petit esquimau, Centre de Psychologie et de Pédagogie (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1964.
Le cordonnier pamphille, mille-pattes, Centre de Psychologie et de Pédagogie (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1965.
La montagne et l'escargot, Centre de Psychologie et de Pédagogie (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1965.
Togo apprenti-remorqueur, Centre de Psychologie et de Pédagogie (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1966.
Contributor to volumes such as Au fond des yeux: 25 Quebecoises qui écrivant, preface by Lise Payette, photographs by Kéro, Nouvelle Optique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1981; L'emergence d'une culture au féminin, edited by Marisa Zavalloni, Saint Martin (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1987; Femmes scandales, 1965-1985, edited by Jeanne Demers and Line McMurray, Outremont (Quebec, Canada), 1987; and Femmes, corps et âme, Musée de la Civilisation (Quebec, Canada), 1996. Contributor to periodicals, including Etudes Litteraires, Revue de l'Universite d'Ottawa, Quebec Français, Arcade, Nouvelle Barre du Jour, Parallelogramme, Estuaire, Northern Literature Quarterly, and Canadian Women Writers.
UNDER NAME LOUKY BERSIANIK:
L'euguélionne, La Presse (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1976, translated by Gerry Dennis and others as The Euguelionne: A Triptych Novel, Press Porcépic (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 1981, translated by Howard Scott as The Eugelion, Alter Ego Editions (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1996.
La page de garde, Editions de la Maison (St-Jacquesle-Mineur, Quebec, Canada), 1978.
Le pique-nique sur l'Acropole, VLB Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1979, revised edition, L'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1992.
Féminaire, Presses de l'Université Laval (Quebec, Canada), 1979.
Maternative, VLB Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1980.
Les agénesies du vieux monde, L'Integrale (Outrement, Quebec, Canada), 1982, translated by Miranda Hay and Lise Weil as "Agenesias of the Old World," in Trivia, summer, 1985.
Au beau milieu de moi, Nouvelle Optique (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1983.
Axes et eau (poems), VLB Éditeur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1984.
Kerameikos (poems), Editions du Noroit (Saint-Lambert, Quebec, Canada), 1987.
(With others) La theorie, un dimanche, Editions du Remuemenage (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1988.
La main tranchante du symbole: texts et essays feminists, Editions du Rumuemenage (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1990.
Permafrost, 1937-1938, Leméac (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: Lucile Durand, who sometimes writes using the pseudonym Louky Bersianik, embarked on her career as an author by writing several children's books in the 1960s. In 1976, with her first novel for adults, she decided to use a pseudonym. That novel, L'euguélionne, is a radically feminist book, and Durand wanted a name that was neither given to her by her father nor taken from her husband in marriage. Friends and family had called her by her nickname, Louky, for some time, and the Bersiamis River in Quebec—and the nicknames of her husband (Iani) and her son (Nik)—inspired the name Bersianik.
Durand was on the forefront of the feminist movement in Quebec literature with the publication of her best-selling novel, L'euguélionne. Patricia Smart, writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, commented that this book, "perhaps more than any other individual work heralded the arrival of feminism in Quebec literature." The novel has been called an "anti-bible," because the main character is a female figure with both Christ-like and anti-Christ-like characteristics. Euguélionne (derived from the Greek word "euaggeion," meaning "gospel," or "good news") arrives on Earth searching for a positive planet and a male of her own species. She observes the subjection of women and is amazed by the fact that women never question their treatment or role in society. The inhabitants of Earth are frightened and threatened by this female figure and destroy her, but she returns in an immediate "resurrection."
Durand's novel is written in verse form and has multiple levels of meaning. It parodies both the Bible and the civil code at the basis of Quebec's legal system, Smart explained. The three books of the novel roughly mirror the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Revelation, with irreverent reworkings of the Bible, Christian dogma, and the concept of the Trinity into humorous, female-centered texts. The Holy Trinity becomes the Mother, Daughter, and Supreme Brain. The story of Adam's pregnancy "mocks the male self-sufficiency of the Genesis account of creation," Smart commented. L'euguélionne "is also a science-fiction novel, using the device of a visitor from another planet as the amazed observer of the subjection of women and their often unquestioning acceptance of this subjection," Smart continued. "The power of Bersianik's novel lies in its brilliant and irreverent reversal of perspective. By placing women at the center of its worldview, it reveals the scandal of a culture which in the name of 'humanity' has denied freedom and self-respect to more than half its members."
Durand's second novel, Le pique-nique sur l'Acropole, follows the same path of extreme feminism and parodies an early text of patriarchy, Plato's Symposium. The book, also published using the Bersianik pseudonym, is a reaction to Plato's thoughts on the nature of love and sexuality and features women picnicking at night by the Acropolis. These women have neither the money nor the time to arrange a proper banquet, but gather to discuss their lives, lovers, spouses, and society's view of women. One of Durand's goals is to give life to the females of Greek mythology, which she accomplishes in this book. One of the characters is Xantippe, the wife of Socrates, who is portrayed as a powerful woman who is rather cynical about her husband's philosophizing. Throughout the novel, the characters look to one another for support and claim a sense of belonging and strength from their solidarity. "While on one level these women are recognizable and 'realistic,' they also have the immensity and resonance of mythical beings who have emerged from a long history of suffering and endurance, and who, as they grow toward consciousness, have within them the power to change history," Smart remarked.
In much of her work, Durand uses her vast knowledge of Greek, Roman, and Christian mythology to criticize patriarchal society. As part of the feminist movement that transformed Quebec literature in the late 1970s, Smart observed, the writer produced work that "distinguishes itself by its broad-ranging cultural references, its use of humor and parody, and its blend of theory and fiction that is both polemical and irresistibly funny." Smart concluded that Durand's novels, poetry, and short works mark her as "a writer with a transforming vision, whose compassion, intelligence, and erudition are producing a growing body of work aimed at inaugurating a new age in history."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 60: Canadian Writers since 1960, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.
Atlantis, Volume 6, number 1, 1981, Jennifer Waelti-Waters, "The Food of Love: Plato's Banquet and Bersianik's Picnic," pp. 97-103.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1997, review of TheEugelion, p. 172.
Canadian Composer, March, 1983, "Feminist Author Becomes Lyricist," p. 24.
Canadian Literature, autumn, 1990, Louise Von Flotow, review of "La theorie, un dimanche," p. 134; winter, 1998, Leslie Harlin, review of The Eugelion, p. 167.
Resources for Feminist Research, spring-summer, 1991, review of La main tranchante du symbole, p. 64.
Spirale, March, 1991, review of La main tranchante du symbole, p. 4.
University of Toronto Quarterly, fall, 1989, Ann-Marie Picard, review of La theorie, un dimanche, p. 206.
Voix et Images, autumn, 1990, Lori Saint Martin, "Ironie feministe prise au piege: l'exemple de L'euguelionne," pp. 110-121; autumn, 1991, Louise Dupre, "Tremblement de la conscience: entretien avec Louky Bersianik," pp. 11-21, Patricia Smart, "Rendre visible l'invisible; l'univers imaginaire de Louky Bersianik," pp. 22-34, Karen Gould, "Vers un maternite qui se cree: l'oeuvre de Louky Bersianik," pp. 35-47, Andre Gervais, "D'un nom et d'une parenthese," pp. 48-65, and "Bibliographie de Louky Bersianik," pp. 75-98.*