Translating Montreal by Sherry Simon
Winner of The Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction in 2006
The divided Montreal of the 1960s is very different from today’s cosmopolitan, hybrid city. Taking the perspective of a walker moving through a fluid landscape of neighbourhoods and eras, Sherry Simon experiences Montreal as a voyage across languages. Sketching out literary passages from the then of the colonial city to the now of the cosmopolitan Montreal, she traces a history of crossings and intersections around the familiar sites and symbols of the city – the mythical boulevard Saint-Laurent, Mile End, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, Mont-Royal.
Translating Montreal follows the trajectories of adventurous cultural translators such as Malcolm Reid, F.R. Scott, and A.M. Klein – pioneers of the 1950s and 1960s – Pierre Anctil, whose translations from Yiddish to French are emblematic of the dramatic reroutings now occurring across the Montreal landscape, and contemporary writer-translators such as Gail Scott, Erin Mouré, Jacques Brault, Michel Garneau, Nicole Brossard, and Emile Ollivier.
Simon argues that translation is a dynamic and subtle tool for analysing cultural contact. An original take on cultural relations in the city, Translating Montreal explores the emergence of the “new” Montrealer. No longer “Franco-Québécois,” “Anglo-Québécois,” “immigrant,” or “ethnic,” the new Montrealer is a citizen of a mixed and cosmopolitan city.
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