Tilley 1995 Violence

Title Information

Author: Jane Lucinda Tilley

Title: Aethetic Violence

Subtitle: The Victimisation of Women in the Quebec Novel

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of British Columbia

Year: June 1995

Pages: v + 265pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Canadian History | Representations: Literature / Hubert Aquin, Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, Marie-Claire Blais

Full Text

Link: cIRcle [Free Access]

Additional Information


»The latent (androcentric) eroticism of rape has been exploited in Western culture, from mythology through to a contemporary entertainment industry founded on a cultural predilection for the representation of violence against women. In literature the figure of Woman as Victim has evolved according to shifting fashions and (male) desires until, in contemporary avant-garde writings, themes of sexual violence perform an intrinsic role in sophisticated textual praxis, Woman’s body becoming the playground for male artistic expression and textual experimentation. These themes are encoded in particular ways in Québec literature, where for many years the saintly Mother-figure served as both valorising icon and sacrificial victim of the conservative, messianic refuge values adopted following colonisation. The tacit matricide of the ideological literature is replaced, however, in the textually and linguistically subversive novels of the "quiet revolutionary" period by more explicit patterns of violence. Here, in place of quietly fading Mothers, female characters die screaming, victims of overt, sexual abuse at the hands of their male counterparts. Now frequently presented as voracious, oppressive and castrating, Woman must be destroyed if the "emasculated", colonised male is to be liberated and become a "Man" once again.
The relationship between colonisation and (sexual) violence is explicitly addressed in three novels of the period. Victor-Lévy Beaulieu’s Un rêve québécois offers a model for the study of this connection, as the "shattering" of the text is reflected in the frenzy of frustration and sadistic (fantasised) violence directed at the unsympathetic, provocative wife of a colonised protagonist. Hubert Aquin’s L’Antiphonaire expands on the textual/sexual parallel, eroding the distinction between the body of the female protagonist/narrator and "her" text, as both are subject to repeated "violations". Both novels subvert "realist" conceptualisations of time, identity, order etc., but rely on the continued and graphic victimisation of Woman to convey both a political and an aesthetic message. Marie-Claire Blais’s Une saison dans la vie d’Emmanuel, subverts the roman de la terre, exposing its ideology as the perpetuation of a cycle of implicit violence and victimisation, in which the ostensibly powerful and valorising Mother is the primary victim.« [Source: Thesis]


  Abstact (p. ii)
  Acknowledgement (p. v)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter One. The Aesthetics of Rape: Literature and Violence (p. 16)
    The Evolution of the Novel and the Representation of Rape (p. 19)
      i. Chivalry and the Mythical Virgin (p. 19)
      ii. The Rise and Fall of the Heroine: from the 18th to the 19th Century (p. 27)
      iii. The Sadian Heroine (p. 36)
    The Legacy of Sade and the Avant-garde (p. 42)
  Chapter Two. The Reign of the Mother. Violence in the Québec Novel (p. 52)
    The Birthing: the beginnings to 1916 (p. 54)
    The Mother: Laura Chapdelaine to Rose-Anna Lacasse (p. 63)
    The Change: 1945 and onwards (p. 77)
  Chapter Three. Un rêve québécois: The Eroticisation of Violence (p. 94)
    Revolutionary Violence and Narrative Subversion (p. 97)
    Nostalgic Past vs Nightmare Reality (p. 106)
    The Quintessential (Québec) Heroine: Virgin, Mother and Whore (p. 110)
    Violence as Catharsis: Provocation as Exoneration (p. 114)
    Colonisation and Gender Inversion (p. 121)
    The Eroticisation of Violence (p. 126)
    Sexual Violence and (Counter)revolution (p. 134)
  Chapter Four. L'Antiphonaire: A Literary/Literal Striptease (p. 138)
    L'Antiphonaire: A Treatise on Women? (p. 142)
    Violence as Catalyst: the Writing Process (p. 147)
    Writing as Performance: the (De)construction of Self and the "Etre pour autrui" (p. 152)
    The Poetics of Violence: Auto-reflexivity, Textuality and Intertextuality (p. 165)
    The Eroticisation of Violence and the Spirit of "Contre-Réforme" (p. 178)
  Chapter Five. Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel: Hereditary Victimisation (p. 192)
    The "Anti-Roman de la terre" (p. 196)
    Regeneration: Carnivalisation and Catharsis (p. 208)
    The Inheritance of Emmanuel (p. 214)
    The Vicious Circle: Hereditary Violence and the Eternal Victim (p. 223)
  Conclusion (p. 233)
  Works Cited or Consulted (p. 241)
    A. Primary Corpus (p. 241)
    B. Extended corpus (p. 242)
    C. Theoretical and methodological sources (p. 244)
      i. Québec: cultural studies and literary criticism (p. 244)
        Books (p. 244)
        Articles (p. 247)
      ii. Feminist, Cultural and Literary Criticism (p. 253)
        Books (p. 253)
        Articles (p. 260)
    D. Miscellaneous (p. 264)

Wikipedia: Hubert Aquin, Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, Marie-Claire Blais

Added: February 1, 2014 | Last updated: February 1, 2014