The Anne Hébert Research Center Loses Its Benefactor
Heir to Anne Hébert's Literary Works, the Université de Sherbrooke is in mourning
Sherbrooke, le 24 janvier 2000 – It was with profound sadness that the Université de Sherbrooke and the entire university community received the news that novelist Anne Hébert passed away last Saturday January 23, at the age of 84 years. The gifted writer was an eminent benefactor who gave her original manuscripts to the University as well as her consent to the creation of the Centre Anne-Hébert in May, 1998.
In 1996, Anne Hébert donated her manuscripts, her original typed papers, personal notes and her recorded documents which together represent the main body of what she wrote in Quebec before she established herself in France in the 1960s. Because of this generosity such valuable documents as the annotated papers of her first literary success, "Les chambres de bois" and its unpublished prologue, or the manuscript and typed papers of her new "La mort de Stella" were sent to the archives of the Université de Sherbrooke with some 30 other written documents or original sound tracks.
Equally precious literary gifts followed in 1997. They included such masterpieces as the original manuscripts for "Kamouraska", "L'île de la demoiselle", "La Cage", "Héloise", "Un dimanche en campagne", "L'enfant chargé de songes" and the "Les enfants du sabbat". To this were added literary works, which had been translated into some 15 other languages, a vast collection of press clippings and descriptive articles as well as taped interviews with the novelist. Anne Hébert also donated her diplomas, decorations, and medals to the University de Sherbrooke. To respect the author's wishes, the annotated documents and the manuscripts will not be available to the public for a period of three years.
For Pierre Reid, the rector of the Université de Sherbrooke, the death of Anne Hébert represents a personal loss: "I had an unprecedented opportunity to meet with her and I found in her, other than the sacred literary monster, a very gifted, charming and intelligent woman who was always interested in listening to others. Fortunately her work will always remain with us and I can console myself that the institution which I lead will contribute to the perpetuation of her memory, thanks to the Centre Anne-Hébert."
The Hébert Center is located at the university's Faculty of Arts and Sciences (http://www.usherb.ca/flsh/centannheb/). The facility offers researchers from around the world all the essentials of the collected works. Because of this, the Anne Hébert Research Center receives numerous requests from both individual researchers and teams of researchers who study her work in France, Germany, Spain, or Sweden among other countries. As an international study center the facility also represents a pole of attraction for students who are interested in by a strong learning environment which is propitious to their knowledge growth about the work of Anne Hébert.
In addition to keeping and housing this heritage collection of original work in all its forms and other types of material in Canada, the Center also provides scientific animation and organizes colloquiums and other activities which feature the author and her work. Important scholarly works about Anne Hébert have also been collected by the Center. They include the monographs, articles and press clippings which have appeared since 1943, the proceedings from colloquiums, as well as briefs and theses among other works.
Anne Hébert is considered to be among the major French-language novelists of the 20th century. Recognized as much in Europe as in North America, she published over a period of more than 50 years a rich and fascinating collection. As a poet, she wrote both stories and theater scripts. At the beginning of her career she wrote for several magazines and prepared a series of commentaries for the National Film Board of Canada. But, it was especially her numerous novels which marked and influenced the French literary world. Among her classics, two are especially known because they were made into motion pictures: "Kamouraska" and "Les fous de Bassan."
In 1993, she received an honorary degree from the Université de Sherbrooke. There were numerous other laurels which went to her as well over the years: the Athanase David prize, on two occasions, the Molson prize, the Prix des librairies de France, Belgium's Royal Academy award, the prix de l'Académie française, the prix Fleury-Mesplet and, of course, the prix Fémina which she was awarded in 1982 for "Les Fous de Bassan". As recently as two weeks ago, Anne Hébert was awarded the France-Québec / Jean Hamelin prize for her novel, "Un habit de luminère" and the rest of her works.
Born in 1916 in Sainte-Catherine de Fossambault, in Portneuf county, daughter of Maurice Hébert, who was a leading critic in the 1930s, cousin of Saint-Denys Garneau, who offered her advice and encouragement, associated with La Relève an important literary movement at the time, Anne Hébert could not escape being the writer she was to become.
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Gilles Pelloille, Communications
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Pierre Reid, Rector, Université de Sherbrooke
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