- Hébert, Anne
born Aug. 1, 1916, Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, Que., Can.died Jan. 22, 2000, Montreal, Que.Canadian novelist and poet.Daughter of a poet and critic, Hébert began her career by writing poetry. After the mid 1950s, however, she moved to Paris, where she produced a number of novels that are psychological examinations of violence, rebellion, and the quest for personal freedom. She was three times the recipient of Canada's highest literary award, the Governor General's Award, once for her poetry in Poems (1960) and twice for her fiction (Kamourska, 1970, and Burden of Dreams, 1992).
* * *▪ 2001Canadian novelist, poet, and playwright (b. Aug. 1, 1916, Ste-Catherine-de-Fossambault, Que.—d. Jan. 22, 2000, Montreal, Que.), spent much of her career in France crafting powerful verse and novels that were marked by an extreme violence and evoked the loneliness and isolation of her adolescence in Quebec that were the result of spells of scarlet fever, pleurisy, and appendicitis. Hébert's first volume of poetry, Les Songes en équilibre, appeared in 1942 and was followed by Le Tombeau des rois (1953) and Mystère de la parole (1960), the latter two of which showed her progression into a mature poet. Her eight novels, seven of which were set in the rural Quebec of her childhood, penetrated the human psyche and explored difficulties of loving and the violence that seems to be an inevitable part of the human condition. Hébert's first book of prose, Le Torrent (1950), was a collection of tales that centred on a young boy and his punitive relationship with his mother; though shocking in nature, it became a classic. Many of her other works presented a child or an adolescent as the central figure and featured the wildflowers, birds, rivers, and isolated farmhouses that were rooted in her childhood. Kamouraska (1970; filmed in 1973 by Claude Jutra), considered the best of her Quebec-based novels, was a tightly woven masterpiece of suspense and won France's Prix de Libraires. Other novels included Les Enfants du sabbat (1975), a tale of sorcery; Héloïse (1980), a horror story about ghost vampires in the Paris subway; Les Fous de Bassan (1982; winner of France's Prix Fémina), about the disappearance and murder of two teenage girls; and Un Habit de lumière (1999), her last. Hébert was honoured with the Governor General's Award three times (1960, 1975, and 1992) and was the recipient of the Molson Prize in 1967. In 1997 she returned from France to reside in Montreal.
* * *▪ Canadian poet and novelistborn August 1, 1916, Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, Quebec, Canadadied January 22, 2000, Montreal, QuebecFrench Canadian poet, novelist, and playwright noted as an original literary stylist. She lived most of her adult life in Paris.Hébert spent her early years largely confined to her family's country home. In her youth she was encouraged to write by her father, who was a well-known poet and literary critic, and by her poet cousin, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau (Garneau, Hector de Saint-Denys). She published her first poems, later collected in Les Songes en équilibre (1942; “Dreams in Equilibrium”), in literary journals. This volume—which she did not include in her later collection Oeuvres poétique (1993; “Poetic Works”)—was an apprentice work, somewhat romantic and traditional, though technically skilled. It gave little indication of the powerful writer who was to emerge. During this period of her life, she also wrote for television, radio, and the theatre. Her first book of prose, Le Torrent (1950; The Torrent), is a collection of violent stories centring on a young boy damaged by his brutal mother. It was followed by a second poetry collection, Le Tombeau des rois (1953; The Tomb of the Kings), which more clearly reveals her inner anguish and intensity of purpose. Quebec publishers became wary of her work, so aided by a gift from the Royal Society of Canada she moved to Paris to find a more sympathetic audience. After publishing Poèmes (1960), which included the poems of Le Tombeau des rois, Mystère de la parole (“The Mystery of the Words”), and a significant essay on poetry and for which she won her first Governor General's Award, she turned chiefly to fiction.Her eight novels, six of which are set in the rural Quebec of her childhood, are psychological examinations of violence, rebellion, and the quest for personal freedom. Perhaps her best work, Kamouraska (1970; Eng. trans. Kamouraska; filmed 1973), is a tightly woven masterpiece of suspense that won France's Prix de Libraires. Les Enfants du sabbat (1975; Children of the Black Sabbath), which won Hébert a second Governor General's Award, is a tale of witchcraft and sorcery. The supernatural was a theme to which she would return. In Héloïse (1980; Eng. trans. Heloise), for example, the protagonist is a vampire. In Les Fous de Bassan (1982; In the Shadow of the Wind; filmed 1987), which won France's Prix Fémina, one of the narrators is a murdered teenage girl. The novel L'Enfant chargé de songes (1992; Burden of Dreams) won her a third Governor General's Award. Also in 1992, Hébert saw the publication of her first volume of poetry in more than a decade, Le Jour n'a d'égal que la nuit (Day Has No Equal but Night). She returned from France to reside in Montreal in 1997. Her last novel, Un Habit de lumière (A Suit of Light), was published in 1999.
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