Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Pierre Nepveu also sees the struggle between culture (the text) and
nature (the wilderness) as the pivotal issue in Angéline de Montbrun : 'Le
texte romanesque, à plusieurs voix, ne cesse de citer, il convoque toute
une culture … mais - et c'est là un second trait lié au premier - pour
plonger celle-ci dans un univers sauvage, à la fois tumultueux et dé-
vasté.' ('La maison,' 80; The text of the novel, through several voices,
quotes incessantly; it convokes an entire culture … but - and this is a
second trait linked to the first - in order to immerse culture into the
wilderness, at once tumultuous and devastated.) For Nepveu this
struggle is central to the French-Canadian experience of the New World
and its expression in literature, and he also ascribes to Laure Conan a
unique position within this tradition as the first native-born writer to
attempt to transcribe a spiritual experience of the New World (90).
Nepveu equates spirituality with religion, but in the sense that its tran-
scendency also characterizes writing itself, one might award Angéline
de Montbrun yet another accolade in the development of French-
Canadian fiction: the first novel about writing itself, which, along with
painting, will assert itself as the ultimate form of preserving national
and personal identity as we move forward into the twentieth century.
The Spiritual and Symbolic Landscape: Conan and Leduc
It would, of course, be impossible in a single painting to suggest the
complexity of a novel like Angéline de Montbrun , especially since the
landscapes in the novel are essentially interior ones reflecting the emo-
tions of the characters, but several paintings of the period, including
one by Conan herself and another by the enigmatic Ozias Leduc, can
serve to evoke various aspects of the novel.
Laure Conan, like many educated young women of her time, prac-
tised painting, as evidenced by her early Paysage de Neuville , circa 1900
(figure 4.3).
Although the work is not highly polished, it is highly revealing, as
Roger LeMoine suggests in his caption: 'Dans ce paysage - le seul qui
nous soit parvenu - Laure Conan a dépeint une jeune femme, placée
entre deux arbres, qui fixe son attention sur un homme plus âgé dont
elle est séparée par une clôture quasi inaccessible. Ainsi a-t-elle voulu
exprimer, comme dans son oeuvre écrite, l'impossibilité qui fut la sienne
d'atteindre l'être aimé.' (32-3; In this landscape - the only surviving one
- Laure Conan has depicted a young woman, placed between two trees,
who fixes her attention on an older man from whom she is separated by
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