Jean O'Neil

Jean O'Neil, author (b at Sherbrooke, Qc 1936). He received a BA from the university in that city in 1957, and began a career as journalist in Granby, Chicoutimi, Québec City and Montréal.

O'Neil, Jean

Jean O'Neil, author (b at Sherbrooke, Qc 1936). He received a BA from the university in that city in 1957, and began a career as journalist in Granby, Chicoutimi, Québec City and Montréal. From 1969, he worked as an information officer and then a communications director in about ten government departments until 1987, when he took his retirement to devote himself to writing.

A novelist (Je voulais te parler de Jeremiah, d'Ozélina et de tous les autres..., 1967; Les hirondelles, 1973), poet (Montréal by foot, 1983), and playwright (Les bonheurs-z-essentiels, 1966; Les balançoires, 1972), Jean O'Neil found his true voice in the creation of a genre of its own: that of "literary tourism", in which he reveals a sensitive poet's nature in prose. Made up mostly of bright and spirited stories, and playful lively descriptions, his works (Cap-aux-oies, 1980; Promenades et tombeaux, 1989; L'Île-aux-grues, 1991; Le fleuve, 1995; Les Montérégiennes, 1999; Hivers, 1999) lead us to discover the unusual beauties of Québec and to reconnect with nature and the simple things in life. Targeting two families, the Legendres in Stonoway and the Murdocks in Les Terres rompues, he wrote a diptych, L'Âge du bois (1996-1997), that tells of the colonization of the Eastern Townships and the Saguenay. His style is characterized by freshness and spontaneity, filled with the singing of birds, the whispering of the wind, the rustling of trees, and the dull sound of snow on the windowsill. With his attention to the minutest details of daily life, his philosophy filled with humour, tenderness and humility marveling in the face of the Creation, his fidelity to the past and to the illustrious ghosts from our history, Jean O'Neil appears to be the spiritual son and most worthy perpetuator of the works of writer and ethnologist Félix-Antoine Savard (1896-1982). He was named Chevalier in the Ordre National du Québec in 1998.