Réjean Ducharme, novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, songwriter (b at St-Félix-de-Valois, Qué 12 Aug 1941). A significant and profoundly original novelist, Ducharme has guarded his privacy since the publication of his first book in 1966 and never appears in public. He was educated at the Juvénat des Clercs de Saint-Viateur and at the École Polytechnique in Montréal, which he left after one year.
His first novel, L'Avalée des avalés (1966, translated as The Swallower Swallowed in 1968), published in Paris, won the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD and caused a literary sensation only intensified by the author's wish to remain anonymous. It is the interior monologue of a young girl who, in rejecting the adult world and all traditional values, invents "le bérénicien," an anti-social and incomprehensible language.
Ducharme's protagonists are often fiercely individualistic adolescents who quest for knowledge and love in a world they see as limiting and hypocritical. Le Nez qui voque (1967) is the journal of a teenage boy who has made a suicide pact with his girlfriend to avoid the compromises of adult life, and in L'Océantume (1968), 2 young girls also turn from the adult world to journey together to the sea. La Fille de Christophe Colomb (1969) is a mock epic written in rhymed verse quatrains, and in L'Hiver de force (1973, translated as Wild to Mild in 1980) and Les Enfantômes (1976), his protagonists are older but no less uncompromising.
Although a central focus of his fiction is the inability of language to adequately capture the complexity of experience, Ducharme's works display a delightful and demanding linguistic virtuosity. His plays, which include Inès Pérée et Inat Tendu (1968), Le Marquis qui perdit (1970) and Prenez-nous et aimez nous (1976), treat similar themes to his novels, and, like the novels, feature elaborate word plays that provoke interpretation and confound meaning. HA ha! (1982), a play centred around 4 characters sharing an apartment, won the Governor General's Award. He has also been the anonymous lyricist for several songs by Robert CHARLEBOIS and has written scripts for the films Les Bons Débarras (1979) and Les Beaux Souvenirs (1981). His most recent novels are Dévadé (1990), Va savoir (1994) and Gros mots (1999).
See also NOVEL IN FRENCH.