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a new order. The cultural order of the first description is pastoral or
rural, but that of the second description is utopian and thus ultimately
revolutionary, according to Major: 'l'utopie est une arme dans le conflit
social … visant l'avenir de la collectivité dans une refonte totalisante'
(17; utopia is a weapon of social conflict … aiming towards the future
of the community with a complete overhaul).
If culture tends to dominate the second novel and even the second part
of the first one, it nonetheless continues to coexist with nature due to the
temporal quality of the text, which maintains both as part of a dynamic
process. Unlike the city, which is explicitly and consistently discredited,
nature can never be entirely discounted. Through the intervention of
memory, inherent in the reading process, the initial scenes in the clearing
are superimposed onto the later ones to produce a binocular image that
embraces both nature and culture. Just as the ideal citizen, described at
the end of the second novel, strives to maintain a balance between physi-
cal and mental faculties (416), and just as he aspires to be a well-rounded
man (458), one might say that the ideal landscape also maintains a bal-
ance between the beauty of nature and the productivity of culture. In the
novel, such 'equilibrium' (see Beaudoin, Naissance , 162) can be achieved
by superimposing nature and culture temporally, just as in painting it
can be achieved by juxtaposing visual elements spatially.
Nature, Culture, and Agriculture in Painting: Walker and Brymner
In the late nineteenth century many painters in Quebec turned to agri-
culture as a source of national pride and identity, chief among them
Horatio Walker and William Brymner. In keeping with 'Walker's sense
that the rural life was morally superior to urban life' (Bermingham, 65),
his Les battures de l'île aux Grues , 1885 (figure 4.1), exemplifies this rural
trend in the Saint Lawrence valley, paralleled in Ontario by his friend
Homer Watson:
The relatively low viewpoint and unobstructed foreground bring the
spectator into close contact with the scene, in which agriculture is fore-
grounded, literally, by the swineherd and the pigs grazing in the bat-
tures (shallows) along the shores of the île aux Grues, northeast of
Quebec City. Further horizontal bands expand the composition beyond
this limited subject matter. Culture, in the form of a village and boats,
occupies the middle ground, while the far ground, consisting of river,
mountains, and sky, takes up a full half of the painting, lending it its
sense of openness, expansion, and 'immensity in nature' (Farr, 29).
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