At the age of 93, Antoine Maillet wanted to determine his legacy by writing my wish, A work that commemorates his native Acadia and pays homage to all the characters who made him a monument of Agadian literature. We met her at her home in Montreal.
Published at 6:00 am.
She greets us with a smile on her face, her eyes twinkling. “Step in with your left foot and make a wish,” she tells us as we step through the front door frame. An old Akkadian belief is that every time she receives one for the first time she comes alive with apparent joy.
She may not be very tall, as she likes to recall, and the writer exudes an irresistible magnetism. In her quiet living room, with downtown traffic a distant background noise, she faces a magnificent piano from her chair. “I love the piano. The whole family played, but others were better than me. Me, I told stories,” she recalls, a slight quiver in her voice.
Even today, Antoine Maillet never tires of telling stories. Despite his past 50 years in Montreal, we never tire of hearing him speak of the fate of this Acadian with even greater fervor. “I’m more Acadian than I’ve ever been. All my books are about Acadia,” he says.
A tribute to its characters
In my wish, Antoine Maillet descends on the division of her property, and she has no “legitimate offspring.” To whom will she give her inheritance? The answer imposes itself. “The purpose of the writer is the purpose of a mother who brings children into the world. I, having given birth to a few hundred children: my characters. I owe everything to them. And they are stronger than me. »
This is how he converses with them in his book, French with Akkadian. There are Jeanne de Valois, Mariaagélas, Pierre Bleu, Don l’Orignal… “Those who influenced me and forced me, in a sense, to keep Acadia,” he says. Pélagie-la-Charrette is, after all, the one who won him the Concourt in 1979, and to whom he presents the advanced people. “I gave it to him as a present my wish, about this country she didn’t know. We now have a university; She will be surprised to know that. »
But she owes everything first to La Sagoine.
Through La Sagoine I became a well-known writer. She was the one who made me know. And I am very proud [ce livre] Because that is a unique job in a way. Anyone can write Pelagia. But this is not. You must have experienced it, seen it, known its language.
“If La Chagoine was important, it was because she said things. I was not important. She was. I reproduced things I had heard. When Kenneth Colin Irving, Canada’s richest man, lived “halfway” between Canada’s richest man and Canada’s poorest man, in his hometown of Bouctouche, New Brunswick, ” “From below the hunt” she heard these things while interacting with them. Woman – La Sagoine.
“Others looked down on them, but I didn’t like people looking down on them, because in the school, there were people from the bottom of the hunt. There was one called Katsu. She was the most interesting in the class. She answered every angle to her mistress to make her laugh. It was funny to me that a girl from the bottom answered. . »
” But Sagoin, she said, I believe I could not have written it in Acadia. I was very close. I need perspective, but most of all I need to feel free. Because writing it is a big risk: “One of two things: either we laughed, or we exposed ourselves. The rest is history.
At the end of July, he will be in Bouctouche to give a speech at the 30th evente Anniversary of the Pays de la Sagouine – a village that pays tribute to its famous heroine. “Big deal,” she murmurs, prematurely happy to be able to speak, she never prepares her speeches and will use this moment to promote Acadia.
Dare to do what you do
Even today the writer takes risks in writing. “I am 93 years old; If I can’t take the risk at that age, at what age should I take the risk? She asks happily. “A writer has rules. But the main rule is freedom within the rules. Risking what others won’t. to try. If the writer is not free and adventurous, he will not do anything new. »
anger my wish, next fall or winter, we’re expecting a story in which his characters Roddy, Naunors, and Scabin deal with the giant Ovid-19. As she could not help but write, she meanwhile began a third book – Floating thoughts – Written in free verse. Lyrical, rhythmic and rhyming prose, she would proudly read to us.
I let my thoughts float. When I finish a chapter, the last word of that chapter provides inspiration for the next chapter. Time, words, Francophonie… It ends in Acadia. I’m funny like that.
Without this arm in plaster, for six weeks — the law, too — she would never have allowed this forced break in writing.
“Writing is very basic for me. When I broke my arm, I told myself what I was doing. So I relax a little, because my mind is constantly disturbed. But it gives me new inspiration,” says Antoine Maillet.
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