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Monique Bosco (Boscowitz)

Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Death: Died in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Robert Boscowitz and Stella Boscovitz

Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Monique Bosco

Biography - Bosco, Monique (1927-)

Family: Born June 8, 1927, in Vienna, Austria; daughter of Robert and Stella (Menasse) Bosco. Education: Universite de Montreal, B.A., 1950, M.A., 1951, Ph.D., 1953. Addresses: Home: 4105 Cote des Neiges, app. 15, Montreal, Quebec H3H 1W9.

Writer and professor. Freelance journalist, 1949-59; writer for National Film Board and Radio Canada; Universite de Montreal, Quebec, Canada, professor of literature, beginning in the early 1960s.

First Novel Award, 1961, for Un Amour maladroit; Governor General's Literary Award, 1970, for La Femme de Loth.

WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:

   * Un Amour maladroit, Gallimard (Paris), 1961.
   * Les Infusoires, Editions Hurtubise (Montreal), 1965.
   * La Femme de Loth, Robert Laffont (Paris), HMH (Montreal), 1970; translated by John Glassco as Lot's Wife, McClelland and Stewart (Toronto), 1975.
   * Jericho, Editions Hurtubise (Montreal), 1971.
   * New Medea, l'Actuelle (Montreal), 1974.
   * Charles Levy, m.d., Quinze (Montreal), c. 1978.
   * Schabbat 70-77, Quinze (Montreal), 1978.
   * Portrait de Zeus peint par Minerve, L'Arbre, HMH (Montreal), 1982.
   * Sara Sage, L'Arbre, HMH (Montreal), 1986.
   * Boomerang, L'Arbre, HMH (Montreal), 1987.
   * Cliches, L'Arbre, HMH (Montreal), 1988.
   * Babel-Opera, Editions Trois (Quebec), 1989.
   * Miserere, Editions Trois (Quebec), 1991.
   * Rememoration, L'Arbre, HMH (Montreal), 1991.
   * Ephemeres, Hurtubise (Quebec), c. 1993.
   * Ephemerides, Editions Trois (Quebec), 1993.
   * Lamento 90-97, Trois, 1997.
   * Confiteor, Hurtubise HMH, 1998.
   * Bis, Hurtubise HMH, 1999. 

Contributor to periodicals, including Ecrits du Canada Francais, Europe, and LaPress. Columnist for Maclean's.

"Sidelights"French-Canadian novelist Monique Bosco is best known for her psychological treatment of women in her books. Christl Verduyn in Dictionary of Literary Biography asserted that "Bosco has focused on woman and given her a voice distinguished by its clarity and forceful expression." Bosco received the First Novel Award for Un Amour maladroit in 1961 and the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award for La Femme de Loth in 1970. Anthony S. Caprio in a Library Journal review of Lot's Wife, acknowledged Bosco's talent, describing her work as "richly personal, moving, and thought- provoking."

Born in Austria in 1927, Bosco studied in France before moving to Canada in 1948. Her life in Canada has centered largely on the University of Montreal, where she earned her B.A. in 1950, her M.A. in 1951, her Ph.D. in 1953, and a teaching position in the French literature department in 1963. In her doctoral dissertation titled "L'Isolement dans le roman canadien-francais," Bosco first explores isolation in French-Canadian novels, a theme that resonates throughout her creative work.

Bosco's first novel, Un Amour maladroit (1961), tells the story of Rachel, a young Jewish woman struggling to find meaning in her life. Set in post-war France and Canada, the book uses its young heroine to typify the larger social upheavals of her day; raised in Paris in a household of women, Rachel is a socially and physically awkward child whose young life is filled with unhappiness and boredom. After the war, the mature Rachel moves to Canada where she hopes to begin a new life for herself. Life in Canada, however, proves to be more of the same--until Rachel meets Yves Dumont. Rachel hopes that Yves will provide her with the security and fulfillment she desires, but the love affair soon devolves into "un amour maladroit." Following this romantic fiasco Rachel returns to France only to find that all of her former contacts there have fallen away. The story ends with Rachel, back in Canada, accepting her fate of lost love and loneliness.

Verduyn stated in Dictionary of Literary Biography that from Bosco's first novel on, "a similar cold acceptance of the injustice, mediocrity, and absurdity of life surfaces." In Les Infusoires (1965), a group of characters converge in Vienna where they are attending a professional conference. Removed from their workaday worlds, Carole, Adolphe, Alain, and Jacques reflect upon their own relevance, and in doing so, "the characters become increasingly aware of meaninglessness in their lives and of their anonymity," according to Verduyn in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.

Bosco received wide critical acclaim with the publication of Lot's Wife in 1975. Framed as a confessional journal, Lot's Wife is the story of a middle-aged woman named Helene, who records her embittered personal history as she plans her own death by suicide in a hotel room in Vienna. Helene's "lucid self-analysis and her ability to describe herself in relation to others result in a powerful psychological narration that is often lyrical and always interesting," stated Anthony S. Caprio in Library Journal.

Helene is stricken with a debilitating fatalism that wrecks all of her chances for happiness. Born Jewish, Helene's family successfully escapes Hitler's Europe prior to World War II. While her immediate family seem to have strong survival instincts, Helene remains paralyzed by a victim mentality she shares with her grandmother. Linda Sandler noted in Saturday Night that "when she meets her Jewish grandmother, her fatalism takes on a racial dimension." Helene feels cheated out of a righteous death in Europe, so instead of rejoicing at her family's good fortune, she feels depressed and bitter.

Helene's fatalistic attitude likewise affects her love relationships. Sandler explained in Saturday Night that Helene "escapes her racial destiny, but at university she encounters her feminine destiny," in which women are treated as property. After an early and brutal sexual encounter, Helene "seems to choose lovers who confirm her experience of sex as violation," according to Sandler.

In 1975, John Glassco's English translation of Lot's Wife met with admiration and praise. Sandler attributed this success partly to the similarities between Monique Bosco and John Glassco: "like him, she is a poet with a complex literary sensibility; like him, she is a . . . romantic." Bosco's later works also seem to parallel her life. Cliches, published in 1988, is a collection of ten stories that deal with the problems and realities of growing old. According to Luise Von Flotow in Canadian Literature, Bosco takes a moralistic approach in this collection. Flotow contended that the stories "often seem cliches, as the title indicates: cliches of the aging process (everything we suspected turns out to be true), and cliches in the other French meaning of the word-portraits of people growing old."

In describing her own work, Bosco reveals that her books are "full of strange characters gnawed by obscure sufferings," according to Sandler in Saturday Night. Bosco's talent is not lost on her reviewers. According to Verduyn in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Bosco's "observations combine compassion and aversion in the face of human nature. She captures nuances of feeling and emotion well. . . . Her literary universe is a tragic one in which justice and a sense of one's own identity are not easily secured."

Bosco's psychological treatment of her characters reflects both the struggles of women and those of her home country. The "woman psyche" becomes a microcosm both of society and of the country itself. As Sandler remarked in Saturday Night, "the personal histories of her heroines are also part of the history of French Canada."

FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:BOOKS

   * Canadian Writers, edited by Guy Sylvestre, Brandon Conron, and Carl F. Klinck, Ryerson Press (Toronto), 1966.
   * Creative Canada, Volume 2, compiled by the Reference Division, McPherson Library, University of Victoria, British Columbia, University of Toronto Press (Toronto), 1972.
   * Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 53: Canadian Writers Since 1960, edited by W. H. New, Gale (Detroit), 1986. 

PERIODICALS

   * Canadian Literature, autumn, 1991, p. 154-156.
   * La Nouvelle Barre du Jour, April, 1978, pp. 90-98.
   * Liberte, March-April 1978, pp. 78-95.
   * Library Journal, March, 1, 1976, p. 738.
   * Saturday Night, May, 1975, pp. 72-75.
   * Voix et Images, spring, 1984.*  

Honors

   * 1992 - Price Alain-Grandbois
   * 1996 - Price Athanase-David
   * 1970 - Price of the General governor
   * 2001 - Member of the Order of Canada

Books

   * Amen, poems . Laval, ED. Three, 2002
   * Babel-opera , Laval, Editions Three, 1989
   * (a), Montreal , Hurtubise HMH, 1999
   * Boomerang, new , Editions Hurtubise HMH, 1987
   * These people-there, HMH, Collection Constant
   * Charles Levy, m.d. , Montreal, Editions Fifteen, 1977
   * Stereotyped, new , Editions Hurtubise HMH, 1988
   * Confiteor , Montreal, Hurtubise HMH, 1998
   * Eh well! the war , Montreal, Hurtubise HMH, 2004
   * Transitory, new , Hurtubise HMH, 1993
   * Éphémérides , Laval, Three, 1993
   * Jericho, poems , HMH, 1971
   * the woman of Loth , Québécois Library, 2003
   * the woman of Loth, Romance , Paris, ED. Robert Laffont, Montreal, ED. HMH., 1970
   * Lament, 90-97 , Laval, Three, 1997
   * the catch-dreams , Montreal, Hurtubise HMH, 2002
   * play of the seven families, Hurtubise HMH, 1995
   * Infusoires , Montreal, Editions HMH, 1965
   * Lot' S wife , translated from the French by John Glassco. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1975
   * Mea culpa , HMH, Collection the tree
   * Miserere, 77-90 , Laval, Three, 1991
   * New Medea , Montreal, the Current one, 1974
   * Portrait of Zeus painted by Minerve , the Room, ED. Hurtubise HMH, 1982
   * Recollection, news, LaSalle, Hurtubise HMH, 1991
   * Wise Sara, Romance, Town of LaSalle: Éd.Hurtubise HMH c1986
   * Schabbat 70-77 , Montreal: Editions Fifteen, 1978
   * an awkward , Romance Love , Paris: Gallimard, 1961 

Forte et singulière, intense et habitée de personnages qui portent en eux leur poids de vie, l'œuvre de Monique Bosco fait entendre une voix unique et essentielle venue enrichir les lettres québécoises d'une authentique quête de la parole à travers une vision universelle de la condition humaine. Elle exprime la difficulté de vivre en mettant en scène des personnages dont le destin, si ancré soit-il dans la réalité québécoise, nous ramène aux grandes tragédies grecques qu'elle transpose dans des situations contemporaines (New Medea, 1974 ; Portrait de Zeus peint par Minerve, 1982), aux origines juives de l'auteure et aux figures de la Bible (La Femme de Loth, 1970) « où, dit l'auteure, je puise mes histoires pour m'éviter de raconter les miennes ».

Dans ce Québec dont elle a fait à 21 ans son pays d'adoption et d'écriture, Monique Bosco dit avoir trouvé une grande ouverture d'esprit et des structures beaucoup moins contraignantes qu'en France. « Quoi qu'on dise sur l'enfermement du Québec des années cinquante, j'y ai trouvé, moi, des gens curieux, avides de s'ouvrir au monde », souligne l'écrivaine. Devenue professeure titulaire à l'Université de Montréal, elle prend la succession du père Ernest Gagnon, fondateur du cours de création littéraire.

Pour certains, l'institution doit à cette femme généreuse et profondément engagée l'essentiel de ce qui s'est réalisé dans ce domaine par la suite. Comme pionnière de la modernité dans la littérature québécoise, Monique Bosco a non seulement soutenu et encouragé les espoirs créateurs de ceux et celles qui se sont imposés comme des figures dominantes, mais elle a aussi contribué à l'émergence de la parole des femmes, tant par la trame de son œuvre que par son enseignement qui porte, entre autres sujets, sur la création au féminin. « Ici comme ailleurs, constate-t-elle, l'écriture des femmes n'est pas assujettie aux canons littéraires. Elles osent aller dans tous les sens, mélanger la fiction et le drame, imposer leur propre façon de dire et de faire. C'est ce qui constitue leur force mais qui, en même temps, rend ardue leur reconnaissance littéraire. »

Consciente que les œuvres qui comptent à ses yeux ne sont pas préfabriquées mais émergent du plus profond de l'inconscient, Monique Bosco s'insurge contre l'entêtement de certains critiques à parler des romans de femmes comme autant d'autobiographies, alors qu'il s'agit plutôt, selon elle, d'autoportraits romancés.

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Monique Bosco's Timeline

1927
June 8, 1927
Vienna, Austria
2007
May 17, 2007
Age 79
Montreal, Quebec, Canada