Roger Lemelin

Lemelin has published 4 novels, a short-story collection and some nonfiction. Most successful have been his novels, Au pied de la pente douce (1944; tr The Town Below, 1948) and LesPLOUFFE (1948; tr The Plouffe Family, 1950).

Plouffe Family
Lemelin's Plouffe family gently satirizes and celebrates a blend of American and Catholic influences in local popular culture (courtesy Library and Archives Canada).

Lemelin, Roger

 Roger Lemelin, novelist, scriptwriter (b at Québec C 7 Apr 1919). He was born in the working-class St-Sauveur district of Québec City and is mostly self-taught. He has also been a journalist and a businessman with interests in advertising, food processing and lumbering, as well as publisher of the Montréal daily, LaPRESSE, until 1981.

Lemelin has published 4 novels, a short-story collection and some nonfiction. Most successful have been his novels, Au pied de la pente douce (1944; tr The Town Below, 1948) and LesPLOUFFE (1948; tr The Plouffe Family, 1950). Critical comment was less favourable to Pierre le magnifique (1952; tr In Quest of Splendour, 1955) and especially to Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe (1982; tr The Crime of Ovide Plouffe, 1984).

Lemelin also wrote the long-lasting TV series based on Les Plouffe, a great success on CBC's English and French networks in the 1950s, and the scenarios for the popular screen and TV adaptations of the same novel, directed by Gilles CARLE. Director Denys ARCAND's film, Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe (1984), based on Lemelin's screenplay, toned down some of the original melodrama, the author's major flaw.

A pioneer of social realism in French Canada, Lemelin's best writing is characterized by keen observation of his compatriots, with the main targets of his satire being clericalism, nationalism, the conventional Québec family, sexual taboos and ignorance. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and in 1987 was made an honorary member of the Union des écrivains québecois. In 1990 he received the French Legion d'honneur in recognition of his contribution to French culture.