Mordecai Richler

Supplementary Material for the Special Issue on Mordecai Richler (Issue 207, Winter 2010)

This special volume of Canadian Literature is a part of the growing reconsideration of Mordecai Richler’s work since his death. A Canadian icon and canonical voice, views of Richler have shifted over the past decade. A new generation of scholars and readers has discovered him, while even among French speakers in Quebec, a new understanding of him as a Quebec writer has taken hold. Nathalie Cooke’s efforts at McGill University led to The Richler Challenge conference, which was followed by my collaboration with her in an effort to gather a range of materials that reflected the new views of Richler’s writing and influence. We pursued scholarly essays by a group of young international scholars, but also approached things as the editors of a trade book might: we interviewed a screenwriter who’d adapted Richler’s stories; we took a walking tour of Richler’s old neighbourhood and recorded it both orally and visually; we looked into his reception as a “diaspora” writer in Israel. The outcome was a fairly heterodox, wide-ranging collection. It was editor Margery Fee’s fast thinking, along with the aide of Glenn Deer and Canadian Literature‘s excellent young editorial and technical specialists, that pointed the best way to make use of this material. Some of it is in print, some is on the journal’s ever-changing web site. All of it is shown to great effect. This outcome reflects the mix of creativity and editorial savvy that can exist among the kind of academics that Richler considered a stodgy bunch of bores asleep at their desks. Hopefully readers will welcome this case of the author being proved wrong.

—Norman Ravvin