In 1880, the French Canadian journalist and politician Frédéric Houde published his only novel, Le manoir mystérieux, ou les victimes de l'ambition, in the Montreal daily newspaper Le nouveau monde. Then Houde's novel seems to have disappeared from the public eye until 1913, when it was recovered, published in book form, and lauded as an original and meritorious text. One year later, a front-page article in the weekly Le nationaliste (Montreal, 1904–24) revealed that Le manoir mystérieux was a plagiarism of Sir Walter Scott's Kenilworth (1821). Since then, few literary historians have examined Le manoir mystérieux in the wider context of novelistic production in Quebec in the late nineteenth century. Drawing from recent scholarship in the fields of book history and print culture, this article proposes that a close examination of Le manoir mystérieux's contents, together with the material conditions that surrounded its publication in 1880, exposes a wider range of approaches to literary authorship and acceptable literary practice in nineteenth-century Quebec than literary historians have heretofore considered appropriate. The author shifts attention away from the Romantic conceptions of literary originality that have narrowed the range of critical responses to Le manoir mystérieux largely to questions about the ethical repercussions of Houde's literary theft. Instead, she argues that Le manoir mystérieux is metonymous of a larger embattled, albeit creative, mode through which the historical novel developed in Quebec.

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