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Next Episode
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Next Episode
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First published in l965, Hubert Aquin's Next Episode is a disturbing and yet deeply moving novel of dissent and distress. As he awaits trial, a young separatist writes an espionage story in the...
First published in l965, Hubert Aquin's Next Episode is a disturbing and yet deeply moving novel of dissent and distress. As he awaits trial, a young separatist writes an espionage story in the...
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  • First published in l965, Hubert Aquin's Next Episode is a disturbing and yet deeply moving novel of dissent and distress. As he awaits trial, a young separatist writes an espionage story in the psychiatric ward of the Montreal prison where he has been detained. Sheila Fischman's bold new translation captures the pulsating life of Aquin's complex exploration of the political realities of contemporary Quebec.

    From the Paperback edition.

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One Cuba is sinking in flames in the middle of Lac Léman while I descend to the bottom of things. Packed inside my sentences, I glide, a ghost, into the river's neurotic waters, discovering as I drift the underside of surfaces and the inverted image of the Alps. Between the anniversary of the Cuban revolution and the date of my trial, I have time enough to ramble on in peace, to open my unpublished book with great care, and to cover this paper with the key-words that won't set me free. I'm writing on a card table next to a window looking out on grounds enclosed by a sharp iron fence that marks the boundary between what's unpredictable and what is locked up. I won't get out before the day of reckoning. That's written in several carbon copies as decreed, following valid laws and an unassailable royal judge. There are no distractions then, nothing to replace the clockwork of my obsession or make me deviate from the written record of my journey. Basically, only one thing really concerns me and it's this: how should I set about writing a spy novel? My wish is complicated by the fact that I long to do something original in a genre that has so many unwritten rules and laws. Fortu nately, though, a certain laziness leads me to give up any idea about breathing new life into the tradition before I even get started. I may as well admit it – making myself comfortable in a literary form that's already so well defined makes me feel very secure. And so without hesitation I decide to integrate my work within the main lines of the traditional spy novel. And since I want to set it in Lausanne, that's taken care of. As quickly as I can, I eliminate any behaviour that would give my secret agent too much merit: he's neither a Sphinx nor a highly perceptive Tarzan, neither God nor the Holy Ghost; he mustn't be so logical that the plot need not be or, on the other hand, so lucid that I can complicate everything else and cook up some story that makes no sense, that when all's said and done would only be understood by some bungling oaf with a gun who doesn't share his thoughts with anyone. And if I were to introduce a Wolof Secret Agent . . . Everybody knows that Wolofs aren't legion in French-speaking Switzerland and that they're under-represented in the secret service. I know, I'm overdoing it, falling into the trap of the Afro-Asian bloc, giving in to the African and Madagascar Union lobby. But let me tell you something: if Hamidou Diop suits me, I can simply make him a secret agent in Lausanne on a counter-espionage mission, for no other reason than to get him out of Geneva where the air is less salubrious. Now I can reserve a suite at the Lausanne Palace for Hamidou, provide him with traveller's cheques from the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, and appoint him a Special Envoy (a phony one) from the Republic of Senegal to some big Swiss companies that want to invest in desert real estate. Once Hamidou is protected by his fake identity and settled in at the Lausanne Palace, I can bring cia and mi5 agents into the picture. And that's that. In return for adding a few alluring lady spies and the algebraic treatment of the plot, I have my deal. Hamidou is getting impatient, I sense that he's about to do something crazy: in fact, I suspect it's already begun. My future novel is already in orbit, so far out that I can't bring it back. I'm frozen, I've just been dumped here inside my alphabet, I'm shackled to it and asking myself some questions. To write the kind of spy novel we read would be dishonest: in fact, it would be impossible. Writing a story is no small matter, unless it becomes the daily and detailed punctuation of my endless stillness and my slow fall into this liquid pit. The enemy will be...

About the Author-

  • Hubert Aquin was born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1929. After receiving his licentiate in philosophy from the Université de Montréal, he spent three years at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, then returned to the Université de Montréal, where he studied for one year at the Institute of History.

    Aquin worked as a radio and television producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Public Affairs division in Montreal and won many awards for his work as a director with the National Film Board.

    One of Quebec's prominent essayists, he turned to fiction in the 1960s. Next Episode (1965), Aquin's first novel, is the searing first-person account of terrorism about to be perpetrated by the novel's young narrator.

    Hubert Aquin died in Montreal, Quebec, in 1977.

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    McClelland & Stewart
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