Nelly Arcan's Humilation on Tout le monde en parle

Nelly Arcan, the talented and beautiful Quebec writer who committed suicide in September 2009 (see my Globe Books post here) has published a controversial posthumous story called Shame (La Honte).

In the story she alludes -- without naming names -- to her appearance on the hugely popular Sunday-night Quebec television show Tout le monde en parle in September 2007, when star Guy A. Lepage and his associate Dany Turcotte teased her on her décolleté.

Now Lepage complains on the show's blog that Arcan “demonizes him” in the story, attributing to him nefarious intentions that had a disastrous effect on her. He claims to be deeply troubled by Arcan’s story, since he had always enjoyed her books. Not wanting to create a media storm around a writer who died two years ago, he just suggests we all read the story, take a look at the 2007 television interview in question, and decide for ourselves.

He adds that it is impossible to judge the extent to which Arcan’s performance on the show provoked audience reactions that may have caused her distress.

La Honte appears in Arcan’s most recent book, Burqa de chair (Burka of Flesh) published posthumously just yesterday by Éditions du Seuil.

The book is introduced by novelist and essayist Nancy Huston, who told La Presse literary editor Chantal Guy that she found Lepage's treatment of Arcan “unpardonable.”

You would never see a man sexually humiliated like that in front of millions of viewers. I'm sure he doesn’t feel guilty, but he is, whether or not he knows it, as are others incapable of recognizing this woman’s intelligence.

Viewing the video this evening, I would say Arcan looks increasingly uncomfortable as the interview proceeds.

A Nelly Arcan website has recently been unveiled.


Linda Leith

© Linda Leith 2011

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