Pélagie-la-Charrette (1979), by Antonine Maillet, narrates the epic journey of the widow Pélagie LeBlanc, who in the late 1770s leads her Acadian people back to Grand Pré from the American South, where they had been deported in 1755. Hers is a double odyssey - the "people of the carts" are haunted by the phantom cart, the cart of death associated with Bélonie, the aging raconteur who accompanies the pilgrims; and by the more tangible phantom ship, an English schooner taken over by Pélagie's beloved Capt Beausoleil-Broussard, also dedicated to repatriating his people.
Embodying the forces of life, "Pélagie-the-Cart" survives through the many generations of squabbling storytellers nourished by her line. Interweaving Acadian legends and folklore, biblical and classical analogues, Rabelais and many other sources, Maillet articulates with humour and considerable poetry the family connection between history, the oral tradition, the imagination and literature. The novel was the first foreign work to receive France's Prix Goncourt. Philip Stratford's translation appeared in 1982.