Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
of the landscape, as suggested by Conan's sustained use of personifi-
cation ('riante,' 'charmants,' 'hardiment,' 'heureux '). In addition to the
personal and emotional aspects of the landscape, the historical allusion
and suggestion of a memorial place brought forth by the reference to
Cartier also constitute important dimensions that reappear throughout
the novel, which is all the more surprisingly 'national' in such a 'per-
sonal' context.
If specific passages involving the landscape in Angéline de Montbrun
are less 'painterly' than in previous novels, they are of equal or greater
significance due to their frequent recurrence and intimate relationship to
the drama. Occasionally, as in the previous passage, the two main as-
pects of the natural landscape are seen together, often the sea perceived
through the frame of the garden: 'À travers le feuillage, j'apercevais la
mer tranquille, le ciel radieux.' (137; Through the foliage I could see the
tranquil sea, the radiant sky.) And if the family name, Montbrun (brown
mountain), suggests the vast space of nature (like the sea), then the name
of their property, Valriant (laughing valley), suggests an enclosed and
welcoming place (like the garden). 13
In the vast majority of cases, however, the garden and the sea are
depicted separately, and, since each element evolves 'psychologically'
during the course of the novel, they will be treated separately here,
beginning with the garden, as does the novel. 14
From the outset, Laure Conan depicts the Montbrun garden as an
aspect not of culture but of nature. As Mina notes in an early letter:
D'ordinaire, j'aime peu les jardins … Mais celui-ci a un air de paradis … Et
tout le charme du spontané, du naturel. Vous savez mon horreur pour
l'aligné, le guindé, le symétrique. Ici rien de cela, mais le plus gracieux
pêle-mêle de gazons, de parterres et de bosquets. Un ruisseau aimable y
gazouille et folâtre, et, par-ci par-là, des sentiers discrets s'enfoncent sous
la feuillée. [56-7, see also 70; Ordinarily I don't much care for gardens …
But this one has an aura of Paradise … And all its charm is spontaneous,
natural. You know my horror for what's aligned, stiff, symmetrical. Here
nothing of that, but the most gracious jumble of lawns, gardens, and gro-
ves. A friendly stream babbles and frolics, and, here and there, discrete
paths disappear into the trees.]
Unlike the classical French garden, anathema for Mina ('mon horreur
pour l'aligné, le guindé, le symétrique'), the Montbrun garden is natu-
ral ('du naturel'), spontaneous ('du spontané'), even irrational ('pêle-
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