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Emile Nelligan (1879-1941) wrote all of his poetry as an adolescent, before spending four decades in a psychiatric asylum. Considering all of Nelligan's work and using a largely textual approach, Emile Talbot points out the Canadian roots of Nelligan's originality. He argues that these are discernable despite Nelligan's use of the discourse of nineteenth-century continental French poetry, particularly that of the Parnassians and the Decadents. Talbot's textual analysis is integrated with a consideration of the social, cultural, artistic, and religious climate of both late nineteenth-century Montreal and the European literary culture to which Nelligan was responding. Talbot considers such pertinent factors as the spirituality of guilt, the role of the mother, and a societal context that rejected both the revelation of the self and the autonomy of art. In doing so he sheds new light on Nelligan's use of European poetic language to fashion a poetry marked by his own culture.