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Sherry Simon

Concordia University, Canada

Robert Morin’s Yes Sir! Madame: The schizoid translator

Yes Sir! Madame is a singular film in the history of Quebec cinema. It has become a cult classic, a totally idiosyncratic oeuvre inclassable. Avant-garde and self-reflexive, it is an autobiographic Bildungsroman, a “coming of age story” which is also a story of impossible self-translation. This story tells the tale of the downward spiral of Earl Tremblay, as the two sides of his bilingual character declare war on one another. The way Tremblay translates himself becomes symptomatic of the relations between his two sides, who behave in an increasingly violent manner towards each other. Much of the action takes place off screen – frequently in the dark, and in the space between the two languages – as the distance between the two language selves widens. This film will provide a rich case study of the fictional translator, whose perfidy and confusion link him to some of the most memorable literary traitors. 

Keywords: bilingual cinema, Robert Morin, translation in Quebec


Sherry Simon is a Professor in the Department of French Studies at Concordia University. She has also held the position of Canada Research Chair in Translation and Cultural History (York University, 2005) and served as Director of Concordia’s interdisciplinary PhD in Humanities Program. An internationally renowned scholar, Professor Simon has published extensively on subjects related to Translation Studies, literary translation, and gender in translation, among others. She has authored, edited, and co-edited several important volumes. Her current research, exemplified in publications such as Translating Montreal: Episodes in the Life of a Divided City (2006) and Cities in Translation (2012), explores intersections of language, translation and memory in urban contexts.

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