Full Range of Literary Genres
A remarkable and prolific stylist, Ferron tackled the full range of literary genres. He wrote some 20 plays, none frequently performed. Some are traditional intimist works (L'Ogre, La Sortie); others are theoretical reflections on drama as a genre (Le Coeur d'une mère); some are strongly nationalistic (Les Grands Soleils, La Tête du roi). Ferron used his experience as a physician in poor neighbourhoods as subject matter for most of his stories and novels. His narrative works all denounce the social and cultural alienation of the Québecois. These works mix memories with allusions to current events, thereby creating a new fiction that is peopled by both historical characters and imaginary beings (Le Ciel de Québec, Papa Boss, Le Saint-Elias), or puts the common people at the centre of the fictional universe (Cotnoir, Les Roses sauvages, La Chaise du maréchal-Ferrant), or is autobiographical (Les Confitures de coings, L'Amélanchier).
An observant and lucid chronicler, Ferron demonstrated his historical knowledge in a genre he rescued from oblivion: the satirical chronicle (Historiettes, Du fond de mon arrière-cuisine, Escarmouches). He wrote more than 1000 of these pieces, in almost sloganeering style, skilfully bringing irony and sarcasm to bear on Québec's political, social and literary life. In addition to these chronicles, Ferron wrote about 200 "letters to the editor," most of them directed to the Montréal dailies Le Canada, Le Devoir and La Presse, in which he showed himself to be a critical and lucid observer of the last 40 years of Québec history. Ferron won several literary awards: the Governor General's Award in 1962 for Contes du pays incertain; the Prix France-Québec in 1972 for Les Roses sauvages; the Prix Duvernay in 1972; and the Prix David in 1977.
Author PIERRE CANTIN