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dear friend, the true sky remains for us.) In its brief appearance, the
third-person narrative voice pronounces with near divine conviction
that 'un événement tragique prouva cruellement que le bonheur est
une plante d'ailleurs qui ne s'acclimate jamais sur terre' (94; a tragic
event will cruelly prove that happiness is a plant from elsewhere that
never grows on earth). After her father's death a family friend writes
that mercy is to be found in the heavens (123), and the parish priest,
who later becomes a missionary, advises her to look to the heavens
(109). Throughout Angéline's diary, the terms 'ciel' and 'lumière' are
used to suggest a higher realm than that of nature. 20
In fact, the novel is constructed not only antithetically, around the
contrast between the garden and the sea, but also dialectically, around
a third term, le ciel , which transcends not only the garden and the sea,
but also itself, since it changes in definition from sky (natural) to heaven
(supernatural). 21 Since both garden and sea are natural phenomena,
they bear a common defect, impermanence, seen in their fragility and
destructiveness respectively, but this common fault can be transcended
by the permanence of the supernatural, represented by the sky, which
simply moves the novel to a higher plane, a higher landscape. We can
thus represent the novel's ostensible structure as follows:
Supernatural (permanence)
that is:
Garden ÅÆ Sea
Nature (impermanence)
If I say 'ostensible,' it is because the solution itself is not of this world,
and, short of entering a convent, which neither Angéline de Montbrun
nor Laure Conan chooses to do, only one other solution remains, one
common to both character and author, and one essential to preserving
the French-Canadian identity: writing. As Lori Saint-Martin succinctly
concludes in her 'Postface' to the novel, 'En effet, c'est par l'écriture
qu'Angéline naît à l'existence.' (229-30; In effect, it is through writing
that Angéline comes to life.) 22 Certainly, the dramatization of the act of
writing in Angéline de Montbrun makes of the character the mirror im-
age of the author, and of the novel a prime and prototypical example of
a nested structure termed 'mise en abyme.' 23
Early in her self-imposed exile, in which Angéline has turned to
writing her diary, she also turns to reading topics of a higher order: 'Je
m'en tiens surtout aux livres de religion et d'histoire. J'ai besoin
d'élever mon cœur en haut, et j'aime à voir revivre, sous mes yeux, ces
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