André Mathieu and the Lesson of Genius

The following is an excerpt from Of Jesuits and Bohemians: Tales of My Early Youth by Jean-Claude Germain, translated from the French by Donald Winkler and forthcoming from Véhicule Press in May 2014. Writer, playwright, director and actor Jean-Claude Germain is a Quebecois icon
whose memoirs are filled with a Montreal-centric Who's Who of 1950's and 60's Quebecois painters, musicians, composers, writers and politicians, evoking a rich cultural milieu of which few English readers are aware. The except included below focuses on a young bohemian Germain's idealistic pursuit of the notion of genius and his transformative encounter with the eccentric and volatile "Canadian Mozart" André Mathieu. Véhicule Press has published an earlier volume of Germain's memoirs, Rue Fabre, in 2012.

 Pre-Order Of Jesuits and Bohemians from Vehicule Press

I was sixteen, and already too old to emulate Rimbaud. But I still had a chance to assert my genius by Orson Welles's age, when he directed Citizen Kane. He was all of twenty-four.

I don’t remember if it was at the Sainte-Marie film club or the System movie theatre on Saint Catherine Street that I saw his film for the first time. From the opening strains of music over the slow introductory travelling shot bearing down on the fence blocking entry to the castle of Xanadu, Kane’s spell was cast. “No trespassing!” Prohibitions are there to be ignored, muttered the camera, and the fence dissolved.