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distance il pouvait distinguer parfaitement la maison de sa mère, avec le
hangar, le fournil, la grange et les autres bâtiments de la ferme nouvelle-
ment blanchis à la chaux, ainsi que la maison de brique voisine, celle du
père François Routier, et les arbres du jardin. Ce spectacle, intéressant
même pour un étranger, était ravissant pour Jean Rivard. Il lui passa
comme un frisson de joie par tout le corps, il sentit son cœur se dilater de
bonheur, et partit à travers champs, fossés et clôtures pour se rendre à la
maison paternelle. Il était léger comme l'air et semblait voler plutôt que
marcher. [155; At the moment that Jean Rivard debarked on the north
shore, the sun must have been a quarter of an hour up; its rays flooded the
plain and reflected all over on the steeples and tin roofs. On his right he
saw the Grandpré church and on his left that of the neighbouring parish,
both rising majestically in the valley and, dominating the dwellings; they
seemed enveloped in a cloud of incense. The long succession of houses,
sitting side by side, sometimes in double or triple rows, filling up the three
leagues between the two steeples, unfurled before his eyes. Although quite
far away, he could distinguish perfectly his mother's house, with its shed,
bakehouse, barn, and other out buildings, all recently whitewashed, as
well as the neighbouring brick house, belonging to François Routier, and
the trees in its garden. This spectacle, interesting even to a stranger, was
delightful for Jean Rivard. Something like a shiver of joy passed through
his entire body, he felt his heart swell with happiness, and he made his way
through open fields, ditches, and enclosures to get to the paternal home.
He was as light as air and seemed to fly more than walk.]
This painterly passage begins with a specific perspective ('sur la rive
nord') and continues with repeated allusions to the character's view-
point and vision ('il voyait,' 'apparaissaient,' 'ses regards,' 'il pouvait
distinguer,' 'ce spectacle'). The overall composition is framed by the
two church steeples ('à sa droite l'église de Grandpré … à sa gauche
celle de la paroisse voisine'), which define the space of the painting
between them ('les trois lieues qui séparaient les deux clochers'). This
space is then filled in ('remplissant') by effects of line ('les longues
suites de maison'), light ('le soleil … ses rayons inondaient la plaine'),
colour ('blanchis à chaux'), and atmosphere ('comme enveloppées dans
un nuage d'encens'). One senses throughout the passage the cultural
density of the area, revealed by the two parishes that run seamlessly
together, by the houses set side by side and in ranks (recalling the sei-
gneurial system of land allocation dating from the French colonial pe-
riod), and by the metaphor of natural mist portrayed as religious incense.
The vast description ends up by focusing on the garden ('les arbres du
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