Émile Borbinu Nelligan
Émile Nelligan as a young man
|Born||24 December 1879|
|Died||18 November 1941 (aged 61)|
Nelligan was born in Montreal on December 24, 1879 at 602, rue de La Gauchetière (Annuaire Lovell's de 1879). He was the first son of David Nelligan, who arrived in Quebec from Dublin, Ireland at the age of 12. His mother was Émilie Amanda Hudon, from Rimouski, Quebec. He had two sisters, Béatrice and Gertrude.
A follower of Symbolism, he produced poetry profoundly influenced by Octave Crémazie, Louis Fréchette, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Georges Rodenbach, Maurice Rollinat and Edgar Allan Poe. A precocious talent like Arthur Rimbaud, he published his first poems in Montreal at the age of 16.
In 1899, Nelligan began to exhibit odd behavior. He was said to have loudly recited poetry to passing strangers and slept in chapels. He was also experiencing hallucinations and he attempted suicide. He was committed to a mental hospital at the request of his parents. There he was diagnosed with dementia praecox (now more commonly referred to as schizophrenia). He did not write any poetry after being hospitalized.
At the time, rumor and speculation suggested that he went insane because of the vast cultural and language differences between his mother and father. In recent years, however, a number of literary critics have postulated that Nelligan was gay. Some of these sources suggest that he became mentally ill due to inner conflict between his sexuality and his religious upbringing, while others suggest that he never went insane at all, but was involuntarily committed to the asylum by his family for homophobic reasons. No biographical sources published during Nelligan's lifetime contain any confirmed record of Nelligan having had any sexual or romantic relationships with either men or women, although some posthumous sources have suggested that he may have been the lover of poet Arthur de Bussières. Within the École littéraire de Montréal circle with which both Nelligan and Bussières were associated, it was widely believed that Nelligan was confined to the asylum because his mother discovered him and Bussières in bed together, although this claim was not widely publicized until the late 20th century and remains unconfirmed. Conversely, the 1991 biographical film Nelligan depicts Nelligan as nearly asexual, portraying him as sexually ambivalent in the face of romantic attractions to both Bussières and feminist activist Idola Saint-Jean, and implying that his mother attempted to commit incest with him.
In 1903, his collected poems were published to great acclaim in Canada. He may not have been aware that he was counted among French Canada's greatest poets.
On his death in 1941, Nelligan was interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal, Quebec. Following his death, the public became increasingly interested in Nelligan. His incomplete work spawned a kind of romantic legend. He was first translated into English in 1960 by P.F. Widdows. In 1983, Fred Cogswell translated all his poems in The Complete Poems of Émile Nelligan. In the fall of 2017, Montreal's Vehicle Press will be releasing Marc di Saverio's English translations of Nelligan, Ship of Gold: The Essential Poems of Emile Nelligan.
Nelligan is considered one of the greatest poets of French Canada. Several schools and libraries in Quebec are named after him, and Hotel Nelligan is a four-star hotel in Old Montreal at the corner of Rue St. Paul and Rue St. Sulpice.
In her 2013 book Le Naufragé du Vaisseau d'or, Yvette Francoli claimed that Louis Dantin, the publisher of Nelligan's poems, was in fact their real author. This claim was also previously advanced by Claude-Henri Grignon in his 1936 essay Les Pamphlets de Valdombre, although Dantin himself denied having had anything more than an editing role in the poems' creation. In 2016, the University of Ottawa's literary journal @nalyses published an article by Annette Hayward and Christian Vandendorpe which rejected the claim, based on textual comparisons of the poetry credited to Nelligan with the writings of Dantin.
Ce fut un grand Vaisseau taillé dans l'or massif:
Ses mâts touchaient l'azur, sur des mers inconnues;
La Cyprine d'amour, cheveux épars, chairs nues,
S'étalait à sa proue, au soleil excessif.
Mais il vint une nuit frapper le grand écueil
Dans l'Océan trompeur où chantait la Sirène,
Et le naufrage horrible inclina sa carène
Aux profondeurs du Gouffre, immuable cercueil.
Ce fut un Vaisseau d'Or, dont les flancs diaphanes
Révélaient des trésors que les marins profanes,
Dégoût, Haine et Névrose, entre eux ont disputés.
Que reste-t-il de lui dans sa tempête brève?
Qu'est devenu mon coeur, navire déserté?
Hélas! Il a sombré dans l'abîme du Rêve!
Je remarquais toujours ce grand Jésus de plâtre
Dressé comme un pardon au seuil du vieux couvent,
Échafaud solennel à geste noir, devant
Lequel je me courbais, saintement idolâtre.
Or, l'autre soir, à l'heure où le cri-cri folâtre,
Par les prés assombris, le regard bleu rêvant,
Récitant Eloa, les cheveux dans le vent,
Comme il sied à l'Éphèbe esthétique et bellâtre,
J'aperçus, adjoignant des débris de parois,
Un gigantesque amas de lourde vieille croix
Et de plâtre écroulé parmi les primevères;
Et je restai là, morne, avec les yeux pensifs,
Et j'entendais en moi des marteaux convulsifs
Renfoncer les clous noirs des intimes Calvaires!
Translation by Konrad Bongard
The gypsum Jesus always stalled me in my steps
Like a curse at the old convent door;
Crouching meekly, I bend to exalt an idol
Whose forgiveness I do not implore.
Not long ago, at the crickets' hour, I roamed dim
Meadows in a restful reverie
Reciting 'Eloa', with my hair worn by the wind
And no audience save for the trees.
But now, as I lie with knees bent beneath Christ's scaffold,
I see his crumbling mortar cross
With its plaster buried in the roses, and am saddened -
For if I listen close enough, I can almost hear
The sound of coal-black nails being wrung in
To his wrists, the savage piercing of Longinus' spear.
Several schools and libraries of Quebec bear the name of Émile Nelligan. Since 1979 the Prix Émile-Nelligan has rewarded the authors of a French-language poetry book written by a young poet in North America.
On June 7, 2005, the Fondation Émile-Nelligan and the City of Montreal inaugurated a bust to his memory in the Carré Saint-Louis. Another monument to his memory stands in Quebec City.
The poetry of Nelligan inspired numerous music composers:
On his work and life
American classical composer John Craton utilized five of Nelligan's poems in the song cycle Jardin sentimental (2004).
Alain Farah is a Canadian writer and academic. Born in Montreal, Quebec in 1979 to Lebanese immigrant parents, he has published two novels and a collection of poetry.
His 2004 poetry collection Quelque chose se détache du port was a shortlisted nominee for the Prix Émile-Nelligan, and his poem "No. 4" was adapted as a short film by director Paule Baillargeon for the 2007 film Un Cri au bonheur. His 2013 novel Pourquoi Bologne was a shortlisted nominee for the 2013 Grand Prix du livre de Montreal and for the Governor General's Award for French-language fiction at the 2014 Governor General's Awards. His short drama Les fortifications de Vauban was created and directed by Marie Brassard in 2014, and in early 2015, Pourquoi Bologne was translated to English by Lazer Lederhendler under the name Ravenscrag.He is a professor of French literature at McGill University, and a regular contributor to Ici Radio-Canada Première's literature program Plus on est de fous, plus on lit.Anne-Marie Alonzo
Anne-Marie Alonzo, (December 13, 1951 – June 11, 2005) was a Canadian playwright, poet, novelist, critic and publisher.
Born in Alexandria, Egypt, she immigrated to Quebec when she was twelve. In 1966 she was the victim of a car accident which left her quadriplegic and using a wheelchair.She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976, a Master of Arts degree in 1978, and a Ph.D. in French studies in 1986 from the Université de Montréal.
The author of 20 books, her poetry collection, Bleus de mine, received the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 1985 and was nominated for the 1985 Governor General's Awards. She co-founded Trois magazine and in 1989 launched the Festival littéraire de Trois.In 1996, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.Aut'Chose
Aut'Chose was a Canadian garage rock group from Montreal, Quebec, active in the 1970s. They were most noted for receiving a Juno Award nomination for Most Promising New Group at the Juno Awards of 1976.Led by poet Lucien Francœur, the band's original lineup featured a rotating collective of musicians including Pierre-André Gauthier, Jacques Racine, Mick Gauthier, Jacques Lalumière and Jean-François St-Georges. The original lineup released three albums, Prends une chance avec moé (1974), Une nuit comme une autre (1975) and Le cauchemar américain (1976).The band broke up in 1976, just weeks after the release of their third album Le cauchemar américain. The compilation Chaud comme un juke-box was released in 1977 in France, and the compilation Encore was released in 1981 in Canada.
Francœur continued to record and perform as a solo artist, and became most noted for "Le Rap-à-Billy", which was credited as the first French Canadian rap single. Featuring Francœur rapping over a hybrid funk-rockabilly track, the song was also a precursor to the rap rock genre that would emerge a decade later. He also continued to publish work as a poet, winning the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 1983 for his poetry collection Les Rockeurs sanctifiés.Catherine Lalonde
Catherine Lalonde (born 1974) is a Quebec poet and journalist.She was born in Montreal and studied theatre and contemporary dance. At the age of 16, she published her first collection of poems Jeux de brume. She has worked in media and communications, as a physical trainer and has written for Le Devoir, Le Libraire, Livre d'Ici and Entre les lignes.For her poems and stories, she won the Prix Critères Intercollégial in 1991, the Prix du Chantauteuil in 1994, the story contest sponsored by the magazine Voir in 1996, the contest of the Wallonie Bruxelles pour la jeunesse agency in 1999 and the Prix de la nouvelle awarded by Radio-Canada in 1997. Her collection of poetry Corps étranger won the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 2008. In 2009, she presented La nuit sera longue, a multi-media show incorporating poetry, dance and theatre.France Mongeau
France Mongeau (born 1961) is a Quebec educator and poet. Her collection Lumières received the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 1986.Frederic Marcotte
Frederic Marcotte is a poet and musician.
He published Évangile (gospel) in August 2010, which earned him to be finalist for the poetry prize of the Fondation Émile-Nelligan for Canadian poets under 35 years old. In March 2011, Théorie de la crise (crisis theory) was published by the same publisher—Les Herbes Rouges, followed by Notre-Dame-du-Vertige in 2013. Other poetic works are in progress.Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal
Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal is a psychiatric hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is located at 7401 Hochelaga Street in the borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. It was established in 1873 and is affiliated with the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine.
The facility receives people with severe mental health problems.
It opened its doors in 1873 under the name of "Asile (hospice) Saint-Jean-de-Dieu." It has been designated as "asile de Longue-Pointe," the name of the place. On May 16, 1890, about 100 people were killed in a terrible fire that almost completely destroyed the institution.
The poet Émile Nelligan resided in the hospital from 1925 to 1941.
It had hosted up to 5,000 patients. The number has declined since the 1980s and some wings were closed. In 1976, the Hôpital St-Jean-de-Dieu became the Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine.
On October 14, 2011, Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine is designated a mental health university institute. On March 5, 2013, the Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine renamed to become the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal.Jocelyne Felx
Jocelyne Felx (born January 2, 1949) is a Quebec literary critic and writer.The daughter of Jeanne d'Arc Marleau and Laurier Chartrand, she was born in Saint-Lazare de Vaudreuil and studied French literature at the Université de Montréal and the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. In 1975, she published her first novel Les vierges folles. Felx has contributed essays and critical writing to various literary magazines and has been poetry critic for Lettres québécoises. In 1982, she received the Prix Émile-Nelligan for Orpailleuse. Felx was awarded the Prix de littérature Gérald-Godin for her collection Les Pavages du désert. In 1995, La Pierre et les heures was included on the shortlist for the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry.List of French people of Irish descent
This is a list of famous citizens of France with Irish origin or roots.
Charles de Gaulle
Thomas Arthur, comte de Lally
Marquis de Lally-Tollendal
Patrice de Mac-Mahon, duc de Magenta
Lambert WilsonMarlène Belley
Marlène Belley (born 1963) is a Canadian poet.She was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec and went on to teach French in Ottawa. Her first collection of poetry Les jours sont trop longs pour se mentir, published in 1995, received the Prix Émile-Nelligan in the same year.Maude Smith Gagnon
Maude Smith Gagnon (born 1980) is a Quebec poet.She was born in the Basse-Côte-Nord region of Quebec and studied at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her first collection of poetry Une tonne d’air was awarded the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 2006. Her collection of poems Un drap. Une place received the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry in 2012.Michaël Trahan
Michaël Trahan (born 1984) is a Canadian poet from Quebec.Born and raised in Acton Vale, he moved to Montreal in the early 2000s. His first book of poetry, Nœud coulant, won the Prix Émile-Nelligan, the Prix Alain-Grandbois and the Prix du Festival de la poésie de Montréal in 2014. In 2018 his second book, La raison des fleurs, won the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry at the 2018 Governor General's Awards.He is also the author of La postérité du scandale : Petite histoire de la réception de Sade (1909-1939), a non-fiction study of the writings of the Marquis de Sade.Nelligan (electoral district)
Nelligan is a provincial electoral district in the Montreal region of Quebec, Canada that elects members to the National Assembly of Quebec. It comprises most of the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough and all of the L'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève borough of Montreal, and the city of Kirkland.
It was created for the 1981 election from parts of Pointe-Claire and Robert-Baldwin electoral districts.
In the change from the 2001 to the 2011 electoral map, it lost Senneville to the Jacques-Cartier electoral district but gained from it the part of Kirkland that it did not already have. It also lost a small part of Pierrefonds-Roxboro to the Robert-Baldwin electoral district.
It was named after the noted Quebec poet Émile Nelligan.Nelligan (film)
Nelligan is a Canadian drama film, directed by Robert Favreau and released in 1991. A biopic of Quebec poet Émile Nelligan, the film stars Marc Saint-Pierre as the adolescent Nelligan and Michel Comeau as the adult Nelligan after his confinement to an insane asylum.The film also stars Luc Morissette and Lorraine Pintal as Nelligan's parents, Gabriel Arcand as his mentor Eugène Seers, David La Haye as his friend and colleague Arthur de Bussières, Dominique Leduc as his friend Idola Saint-Jean, and Gilles Pelletier as poet Louis-Honoré Fréchette. A key theme of the film is that Nelligan was a poète maudit continually pulled in different directions by opposing forces, including the conflicting cultural identities of his English Canadian father and his French Canadian mother, the competing influences of Seers and Fréchette on his writing, and a nearly asexual ambivalence in his personal relationships with both Bussières and Saint-Jean. The film also posits that Nelligan was subject to incestuous advances by his mother.The film received two Genie Award nominations at the 12th Genie Awards in 1991, for Best Cinematography (Guy Dufaux) and Best Costume Design (François Laplante).Prix Émile-Nelligan
The Prix Émile-Nelligan is a literary award given annually by the Fondation Émile-Nelligan to a North American French language poet under the age of 35. It was named in honour of the Quebec poet Émile Nelligan and was first awarded in 1979, the 100th anniversary of his birth.Saint-Louis Square
Saint Louis Square (officially in French: square Saint-Louis) is an urban square in Montreal's Plateau Mont Royal. Its eastern edge fronts onto Saint Denis Street, a major north-south artery. Square Saint Louis Street runs along both the square's northern and southern sides, while Laval Avenue runs along its western side.
The square is located on the site of the city's former reservoir, which was in use until 1852, after which it was replaced by the McTavish reservoir following the Great Fire of 1852. The square was created in 1876 and was named for two businessmen, brothers Emmanuel Saint-Louis and Jean-Baptiste Saint-Louis.The Project for Public Spaces has called the square "the closest thing to a European neighbourhood square you'll find this side of the Atlantic."Serge Patrice Thibodeau
Serge Patrice Thibodeau (born August 11, 1959) is a Canadian writer. He is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry, winning at the 1996 Governor General's Awards for Le Quatuor de l'errance and La Traversée du désert, and at the 2007 Governor General's Awards for Seul on est, and won the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 1992 for Le cycle de Prague.Tania Langlais
Tania Langlais (born 1979) is a Quebec poet and educator.She was born in Montreal and was educated at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Langlais teaches French at the college level.Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies. Langlais received the Prix Émile-Nelligan in 2000 for her collection of poetry Douze bêtes aux chemises de l’homme, the youngest to receive this award. She has also received the Prix Jacqueline-Déry-Mochon in 2001, the first prize for poetry from Radio-Canada in 2002 and the Prix Joseph-S. Stauffer in 2005. She was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for French-language poetry in 2001, in 2007 and in 2014.Élise Turcotte
Élise Turcotte (born 26 June 1957 in Sorel, Quebec) is a Canadian writer. She completed her BA and MA in literary studies at the University of Quebec and later received her doctorate at the Université de Sherbrooke. She now teaches literature at a CEGEP in Montreal, where she currently resides. Her writing has won much praise, and among other things she has won the Grand Prix de Poésie, as well as the 2003 Governor General's Award for her novel La Maison étrangère and the Prix Émile-Nelligan for La voix de Carla in 1987 and for La terre est ici in 1989.