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Indeed, many literary historians further argue that this short novel is
also the first aesthetic triumph of French-Canadian fiction.11 11 The fact that
the writer is a woman is all the more exceptional, as Lucie Robert ex-
plains: 'La littérature féminine demeure alors marginale, faute d'avoir
pris en charge les dimensions épique, historique et politique du monde …
Parallèlement à cette écriture marginalisée apparaît une écriture féminine
qui tente d'assumer la fonction esthétique du littéraire et qui contribue à
l'émergence d'une parole féminine autonome, c'est-à-dire d'une parole
qui construit son propre point de vue.' (43-4; Feminine literature thus
remains marginal, for want of taking account of the epic, historical, and
political dimensions of the world … Parallel to this marginalized writing
appears a feminine writing that attempts to assume the aesthetic func-
tion of literature and contributes to the emergence of an authentic femi-
nine voice, that is, a voice that constructs its own viewpoint.)
Angéline de Montbrun begins as an epistolary novel, with letters being
exchanged between Maurice Darville, his sister Mina, his future fiancée
Angéline, and her father, Charles, a powerfully attractive figure for all
three of the young protagonists. Near its midpoint the novel abruptly
shifts into a brief narration in the third person, in which we learn of the
father's death, Mina's decision to enter a convent, and Angéline's grief,
so strong that it leads to a disfiguring accident followed by her return-
ing her engagement ring to Maurice, since, despite his protestations,
she perceives a waning of his once fervent love. The rest of the novel
consists of 'feuilles détachées' (detached leaves), primarily excerpts
from Angéline's intimate diary, revealing memories from the past and
her thoughts on love, life, the past, and the future, sprinkled with let-
ters to and from the other protagonists. The final piece is her letter to
Maurice renouncing any hope of reconciliation, despite (but also be-
cause of) her enduring love for him.
The fragmented narration in Angéline de Montbrun not only breaks
with the traditional, authoritative (and thus 'masculine') narrator to ac-
commodate an emerging feminine voice, but its plurivocality and mul-
tiple perspectives lend it the same modern quality of relativity we
found in Charles Guérin . Whereas Charles Guérin provided a broader
panorama of society, Angéline de Montbrun , largely through the sus-
tained intimate diary, has far greater psychological depth.
Despite its first-person, psychologically oriented focus, however,
Angéline de Montbrun bears numerous traces of earlier 'rural novels'
and thus provides a certain continuity in the development of French-
Canadian fiction. Most of the action takes place at Valriant, the
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