Lasnier, Rina 1915-1997

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Lasnier, Rina 1915-1997


Born August 6, 1915 in Saint-Grégoire d'Iberville, Quebec, Canada; died May 9, 1997; daughter of Moise and Laura Lasnier. Education: Graduate of the University of Montreal. Religion: Roman Catholic.


Poet and lecturer. Académie canadienne-française, founding member.


Prix David, 1943, 1974; Prix Duvernay, 1957; Molson Prize, 1971; A.J.M. Smith Prize, 1972; Prix France-Canada, 1973; Lorne Pierce Medal, 1974; honorary degree, University of Montreal, 1977; Prix Edgar Allan Poe (France), 1979; decorated grand officer, National Order of Quebec, 1987.



Images et proses, Éditions du Richelieu (Saint-Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, Canada), 1941.

Le Mère de nos mères, Éditions Messager Canadien (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1943.

Madones canadiennes, Beauchemin (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1944.

Le Chant de la montée, Beauchemin (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1947.

Escales, privately printed (Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada), 1950.

Présence de l'absence, Éditions de l'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1956, reprinted, 1992.

La Grande Dame des Pauvres, Éditions des Sœurs Grises (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1959.

Mémoire sans jours, Éditions de l'Atelier (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1960.

Miroirs, Éditions de l'Atelier (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1960.

Les Gisants, suivi des Quatrains quotidiens, Éditions de l'Atelier (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1963.

L'Arbre blanc, Éditions de l'Hexagone (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1966.

Ces Visages qui sont un pays, Éditions de l'O.N.F. (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1968.

L'Invisible, Éditions du Grainier (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1969.

La Part du feu, Éditions du Songe (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1970.

La Salle des rêves, Hurtubise HMH (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1971.

Poèmes, two volumes, Fides (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1972.

Le Rêve du quart jour, Éditions du Richelieu (Saint-Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, Canada), 1973.

L'Echelle des anges, Fides (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1975.

Les Signes, Hurtubise HMH (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1976.

Matin d'oiseaux, Hurtubise HMH (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1978.

Paliers de paroles, Hurtubise HMH (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1978.

Entendre l'ombre, Hurtubise HMH (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1981.

Voir la nuit, Hurtubise HMH (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1981.

Le Soleil noir, Éditions de la Parabole (Joliette, Quebec, Canada), 1981.

Le Choix de Rina Lasnier: dans l'oeuvre de Rina Lasnier, Presses Laurientiennes (Notre-Dame des Laurentides, Quebec, Canada), 1981.

Chant perdu, Écrits des Forges (Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada), 1983.

Etudes et rencontres, Éditions de la Parabole (Joliette, Quebec, Canada), 1984.

L'Ombre jetée, two volumes, Écrits des Forges (Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada), 1987.

Le sang du regard, Écrits des Forges (Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada), 2004.


Féerie indienne: Kateri Tekakwitha (title means "An Indian Miracle Play: Kateri Tekakwitha"), Éditions du Richelieu (Saint-Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, Canada), 1939.

Le Jeu de la voyagère (play), Éditions de la Société des Ecrivains Canadiens (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1941.

Les Fiançailles d'Anne de Nouë (play), Secretariat de la Ligue Missionnaire des Etudiants (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1943.

Notre-Dame du Pain (play; published with Notre-Dame de la Couronne by Gustave Lamarche), Éditions des Paroliers du Roi (Joliette, Quebec, Canada), 1947.

Rina Lasnier, ou, Le langage des sources: essais, Écrits des Forges (Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada), 1988.

Also author of short stories.


Rina Lasnier was known primarily as a French-language poet, but she also produced two poetic dramas and some short stories. Lasnier, accord- ing to Gwladys Downes in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "remains a unique figure in Quebec literature … she has never regarded herself as an exile from French culture, or established roots in France."

Lasnier's poetry fit neither continental nor Québécois traditions. As Downes said, "She has not … been influenced by the popular Quebec movements toward feminism, totally free expression, or the use of joual, choosing rather to pursue a solitary vocation according to her own perception of poetry and the poet's role."

Lasnier, born into a well-to-do family, graduated from Collège Marguerite Bourgeoys in her hometown, then attended a private school in Exeter, England, where she became nearly as fluent in English as in her native French.

Lasnier's literary career spanned the Catholic Church's ideological dominance and the Quebecois literary revolution of the late 1960s. Her poetry reflected her devout Catholicism. Lacking the religious fervor of such poets as Father Napoleon-Phillippe Landry, her work nonetheless is strongly romantic, and is explicit in its spiritual themes.

According to Downes, "the struggle of the human soul to reach God" dominates Lasnier's poetry. In her first published work, Féerie indienne: Kateri Tekakwitha, the main character, a young Iroquois girl, refuses to marry the son of a sorcerer in order to "give herself to the Christian faith." For Lasnier, however, this struggle is universal, not Catholic. She studied extensively the religious traditions of ancient Egypt, China, and India. Her love poetry parallels human love with divine love. Lasnier shapes her verses with what Downes called "the yearning for the unattainable, without a trace of the bitterness arising from sexual betrayal or jealousy."

In the late 1960s, when church influence on accepted French-Canadian literature began to fade, the principal reaction within the major literary circles of Montreal and Toronto was to reject such spiritual expression as Lasnier's. Downes wrote, "Poetry became suddenly part of the social and political ferment of the time against intellectual censorship and repression of all kinds," a repression linked to the Catholic Church. As an avowed Catholic, Lasnier suddenly found many younger poets and critics were hostile to her work. Although her writing frequently emphasizes Catholicism, or at least Christianity, non-Christian spiritual traditions also emerge. But while interest declined in spiritual poets and writers like Lasnier, she still earned acclaim.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 88: Canadian Writers, 1920-1959, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Gwladys Downes, 1989.