The Second World War comes down to a village in rural Quebec when the village's first casualty is repatriated, accompanied by an Anglo honour guard. Here follows the obligatory wake, a comic romp through sex, death, and language politics, all in the overbearing presence of the Catholic church. The weight of history, the rural setting, and all that snow: it's the stereotypical stuff of Canlit, but La Guerre, Yes Sir!
is short, and riotously funny.
Both swearing and prayers (which in a sense, amount to the same thing here) are left untranslated; the mangled prayers of the villagers are, unfortunately, an untranslateable joke. The villagers don't get a free ride here in favour of mocking the maudits Anglais
; Carrier mocks the ignorance and religiosity of rural Quebec, circa 1944, much more savagely than he attacks the Anglos. In keeping with the attitudes of its day, the novel has no sympathy for the rural, the hick, or the traditional. In this sense it recalls Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
; both the mangled prayers and a clock ticking "always, never" over a sinner allude to Joyce. The language, however, is straightforward, and this book is an easy read.
(Review applies to the English translation.)
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