Robert La Palme et les origines caricaturales de la Grande Noirceur duplessiste : conception et diffusion d'un mythistoire au Québec, des années 1940 à nos jours

Authors: Turgeon, Alexandre
Advisor: Létourneau, Jocelyn
Abstract: Alongside the Quiet Revolution, the Great Darkness occupies a special place in the collective imaginary of the Quebeckers. Those two mythistories articulate a dichotomical conception of Quebec’s past where the year 1960 appears as a fracture between two distinct times and two worlds, between the Old and the New Regime. This thesis explores the caricatural origins of the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era. Up until now, researchers who have discussed the matter of the constitutive mythistories of modern Quebec were mostly interested in the discourses from intellectuals grouped at newspaper Le Devoir, journal Cité Libre and the Faculté des Sciences sociales of the Université Laval. As for us, we focus on the contribution of caricaturist Robert La Palme in the conception and diffusion of the mythistory of the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era in Quebec. Robert La Palme is one of the most prominent caricaturists that Quebec has ever known. Between 1939 and 1962, he worked at the most important French-Canadian newspapers of the time and presented his caustic view of current affairs. Throughout the years, a wide variety of characters from all political and cultural backgrounds found their way inside the great theatre which was his satirical comedy. No one else attracted the attention of the artist more than Maurice Duplessis, leader of the Union Nationale and Premier of the province of Quebec from 1936 to 1939, then from 1944 right until his death in 1959. In hundreds of caricatures, La Palme took malicious delight in drawing caricatures of the man and his “regime”, his ideas and his convictions, acts and position statements. By doing so, the caricaturist produced some of the iconic images of the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era. Carried out through the works of caricaturist Robert La Palme, this thesis studies the production process and flow of the discourses that referred to the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era since the 1940s. We show that Robert La Palme gave an original discourse on the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era. His most important contribution to this regard is the formula “Toé, tais-toé!”, that he first put over the mouth of Maurice Duplessis. This formula has since become one of the icons of this mythistory. Other discourses regarding the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era have also resorted to La Palme’s caricatures. Two electoral brochures of the provincial Liberal Party as well as schoolbooks, a commemorative event and an historical synthesis grabbed our attention. In the 1940s and 1950s, the provincial Liberal Party used La Palme’s caricatures in order to reply to the Union Nationale’s demagoguery. When the caricature did not serve as a political discourse, the latter took the traits of the caricature. Since the 1980s, Robert La Palme’s caricatures were finally put to use for educative, commemorative and historical purposes to enhance the mythistory of the Great Darkness of the Duplessis era.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2015
Open Access Date: 23 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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