Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
As with its fictional ancestors, many of the ideological issues brought
forth in Angéline de Montbrun involve the culture/nature dialectic;
here, the landscape description takes on a decided pattern, a contrast
between the limited place of the garden and the vast space of the sea, as
we see in an early letter from Maurice to Mina:
J'aime cette maison isolée et riante qui regarde la mer à travers ses beaux
arbres, et sourit à son jardin par dessus une rangée d'arbustes charmants.
Elle est blanche, ce qui ne se voit guère, car des plantes grimpantes courent
partout sur les murs, et sautent hardiment sur le toit. Angéline dit: 'Le
printemps est bien heureux de m'avoir. J'ai si bien fait, que tout est vert.'
Aujourd'hui nous avons fait une très longue promenade. On voulait me
faire admirer la baie de Gaspé, me montrer l'endroit où Jacques Cartier
prit possession du pays en y plantant la croix. Mais Angéline était là, et je
ne sais plus regarder qu'elle. Mina, qu'elle est ravissante! J'ai honte d'être
si troublé; cette maison charmante semble faite pour abriter la paix. Que
deviendrais-je mon Dieu, s'il allait refuser? Mais j'espère. [27-8; I love this
isolated, happy house that watches the sea through its beautiful trees, and
smiles at its garden across a row of charming bushes. It's white, though
that's hardly peceptible, since climbing plants cover its walls all over and
leap boldly onto the roof. Angéline says: 'Spring is happy to have me. I've
done so well that everything is green.' Today we went on a long walk.
They wanted to have me admire the bay of Gaspé and show me the place
where Jacques Cartier took possession of the country by planting a cross.
But Angéline was there, and I can no longer see anthing but her. Mina,
how ravishing she is! I'm ashamed to be so troubled; this house seems
made for harbouring peace. What will become of me, God, if he were to
refuse? But I'm hoping.]
The passage begins with a clear juxtaposition of the sea ('mer') and the
garden ('jardin'), with a precise indication of spatial relationships ('à
travers,' 'par dessus,' 'partout sur,' 'sur') and a suggestion of colours
('blanches,' 'vert'), but visuality itself is limited: it's the house, rather
than Maurice 'qui regarde la mer,' and indeed, instead of looking at the
sea and the place where Cartier planted his cross, Maurice has eyes
only for Angéline. In part, the paucity of visual detail stems, of course,
from the form of narration, the letter, which mitigates against lengthy
description in favour of personal detail; but in large measure, nature
itself is already seen in psychological terms: Maurice's passion for
Angéline and his fear of her father ('s'il allait refuser') colour his view
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