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Slattern


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A: Antonine Maillet Pf: 1971, New Brunswick Pb: 1971 Tr: 1979 G: Monodrama in 16 scenes; Acadian (Canadian French) prose S: A room on the east coast of Canada, 1972 C: 1f‘The Slattern’ is a 72-year-old woman with a mop and a bucket, who reminisces in a long monologue about her life. She describes a life of poverty: how she married an oyster fisherman who scraped a living from the sea. When state benefits dried up, and the seashore could no longer provide enough to eat, the Slattern earned money cleaning houses for those with a little money. And when it became difficult even to earn a few cents from this drudgery, she went on the streets to get enough to feed herself and her children. As a result, she is treated with contempt, elbowed aside at the Christmas festivities, banned by the priest from taking part in a bingo game organized by the Church for the relief of the poor. Despite everything, she is proud to be able to express herself in the vigorous tongue of her ancestors. She does not bemoan her lot, knowing that a poor woman like her can do little to change things. All she hopes for now is a peaceful end to her life.

A: Antonine Maillet Pf: 1971, New Brunswick Pb: 1971 Tr: 1979 G: Monodrama in 16 scenes; Acadian (Canadian French) prose S: A room on the east coast of Canada, 1972 C: 1f

Maillet has become the spokesperson for Acadia, the east coast area around New Brunswick, whose culture and language developed separately from Quebec. Maillet offers an inspiring vision of life at the bottom, despite the deprivations she has suffered, ‘without retouching her wrinkles, her chapped hands, or her language’. As the author Jacques Cellard writes: ‘Mother, wife, slave, prostitute;…stranger in her own country, proletarian without homeland: the Slattern is all these things. She has nothing. She is.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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