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vous avez tant regardée, tant admirée, d'un jour à l'autre, je la vois se
flétrir. Je vais la voir disparaître et cela m'attriste. C'est la première fois
que l'automne me fait cette impression.' (86; Frosts have already rav-
aged the garden. That beautiful greenery you looked at so much, ad-
mired so much, day by day I see it wither. I'm going to see it disappear,
and that saddens me. This is the first time that autumn has given me
that impression.) 16
After her break-up with Maurice, Angéline's seasonal impressions of
the fading garden become enduring symbols of their broken love and
past illusions, as seen in an entry to her diary from 23 May, when flowers
and love ought to be flourishing: 'Je viens de visiter mon jardin … Je re-
gardais le pauvre arbustre, qui n'a plus, à bien dire, que ses épines, et je
pensais au jour où Maurice me l'apporta si vert, si couvert de fleurs. Que
reste-t-il de ces roses entrouvertes? que reste-t-il de ces parfums? Fanées
les illusions de la vie, fanées les fleurs de l'amour!' (111; I just visited my
garden … I was looking at the poor bush, which in truth no longer has
anything but its thorns, and I was thinking of the day when Maurice
brought it to me, so green, so covered in flowers. What remains of those
budding roses? What remains of those scents? Wilted are life's illusions,
wilted the flowers of love!) In addition to the evolution of the garden,
from flourishing to fading, from emotive to symbolic, we note the change
in Angéline herself, more introspective, more meditative, more profound
than the person revealed in her earlier letters.
This very passage, by the memory it evokes of Maurice, signals yet
another stage in the role of the garden, as it comes to represent a reposi-
tory of memories and as such becomes bittersweet, ambivalent, as cap-
tured in an episode recalling the father's death, which begins with the
verse 'Ô lumineuse fleur des souvenirs lointains' (134; Oh luminous
flower of distant memories) and ends with the image of the flower
worn by Angéline's father on his last evening on earth (140). While con-
solation may be found in accepting God's will (137), it also persists in
memory itself, linked as it is to place, as recognized by Angéline in later
entries: 'Je ne saurais m'éloigner de Valriant, où tout me rappelle mon
passé si doux, si plein, si sacré.' (149; I wouldn't want to go far from
Valriant, where everything recalls my past: so sweet, so full, so sacred.)
Indeed, the garden is capable of evoking specific memories for Angéline,
and the past even seems capable of rebirth, as when she recalls the last
time she heard Maurice sing: 'Comme le passé revient à certains mo-
ments, comme le passé, comme la terre rendent ce qu'ils ont pris!' (194;
How the past returns at certain moments, how the past, how the earth,
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