Beginnings


One of the most influential experiences of my life as a writer was at nine years old. My father was offered a job by the Department of National Defence in Quebec in 1941. He found us a delightful little house on the outskirts of the city. It had a very cottage-like feel to it. No electricity, a wood stove, a cold water pump but with an incredible library full of the French classics. From walls end to walls end was Flaubert, de Maupassant, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Proust, Dumas, and Baudelaire. I was allowed to stay up at night as long as I wanted to,  providing I was reading. And so Madame Bovary, Candide, Les Miserables,  A La Recherche du Temps Perdu and so very many others became my steady diet. The rhythmic cadence of the language sat in my head like a luxurious symphony. The round sounds conveyed to me the exact meaning of the author ’s conscious intention to convey. The works left me with the knowledge that it was not merely the language that uncovered the meaning of the text but also the heartfelt passion with which it had been written. The creative force flowing from the heart to the page.