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Claude Gauvreau

From Academic Kids

Claude Gauvreau (August 19, 1925 - July 7, 1971), was a Quebec playwright, poet and polemist born in Montreal. He did classical studies at the Collège Sainte-Marie, and graduated with a B.A in Philosophy from Université de Montréal.

He discovered modern art through his brother Pierre, who attended l'École des beaux-arts, and met painter Paul-Émile Borduas, leader of Les Automatistes. In 1947, he wrote his first play, Bien-être, with actor Muriel Guilbault, « la muse incomparable », with whom he was deeply in love. He then became an inconditional advocate of the automatist movement, and, in 1948, signed Bordua's manifesto Refus Global, which would become a key document of Quebec cultural history.

Following Muriel Guilbault's suicide, his fragile emotional stability caused him to be interned ten times over eight years in Montreal psychiatric hospital Saint-Jean-de-Dieu. He continued to write, though. While working for the radio, between 1952 and 1969, he wrote several of his most notorious works, beginning with Beauté baroque (1952), a novel depicting the life of his beloved Muriel. In 1956, at a time where he believed to die, he wrote what many consider to be his masterpiece, La charge de l'original épormyable, which would not be performed until 1974 at Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. He also wrote, between 1956 and 1968, several collections of poems, including: Sur fil métamorphose (1956), Brochuges (1956), and Étal Mixte (1968).

In 1958, Janou Saint-Denis realized two of his short plays at École des beaux-arts: La jeune fille et la lune and Les grappes lucides. He then wrote his masterpiece, Les oranges sont vertes, which would be presented at TNM in 1972.

On March 27, 1970, he participated to La Nuit de la poésie, the greatest festival of the word which ever took place in Quebec. He appeared as an imposing and solitary man, indifferent to criticisms. He drew up right in front of crowd and, of a sure voice, without failures, he shouted the force of an unchained verb.

On July 7, 1971, Gauvreau died under supsicious circumstances which some consider to be suicide but which the coroner ruled accidental death (he fell from the roof of his building).

The art of Claude Gauvreau was revolutionary for its time. He deconstructed and reconstructed vocabulary, creating the explorean language, tearing to pieces the leading clerical, choking, ideology of Quebec of the Fifties.

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