Haunting Love in Anne Hébert’s Les fous de Bassan and Mary Novik’s Conceit


In this paper, I explore how the lack of a relationship with the other manifests itself through the figure of the female revenant in Canadian author Mary Novik’s Conceit (2007) and Québécois author Anne Hébert’s Les fous de Bassan (1982). The former novel stages the invocation and welcoming of the revenant, Ann Donne, on the part of her daughter, Pegge, who hopes to learn from the ghost the secret of love. Anne Hébert’s novel, on the other hand, figures a series of unwelcome female revenants who slip through various characters’ psychic barriers and are in turn chased away. In both cases the daughter is the privileged medium or agent of the ghostly encounter. I propose to show how the female apparitions in the two novels, despite their differences, trace a path back to a similar gendered suffocation within the couple, whether literal (as in the case of Les fous de Bassan), or figurative (as in the case of Conceit).

This article “Haunting Love in Anne Hébert’s Les fous de Bassan and Mary Novik’s Conceit” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 214 (Autumn 2012): 31-45.

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