Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Laurentie'), first at a single viewing ('d'un regard'), where the various
reference points are given as nouns, occupying fixed places on the grid,
then by scanning the grid, following the movement of the Richelieu
River, rendered though a series of active verbs, which become progres-
sively visual in their rendering. In the phrase 'portant bateaux et ponts,'
for example, the Richelieu River can indeed move boats, but only the
eye can make the bridges seem to move, as it scans the horizon towards
its eventual vanishing point, 'la buée indécise qui marque l'emplacement
de Sorel.' Here, the visual impression formed by distance and atmo-
sphere ('la buée indécise') is complemented by a detail that can come
only from the viewer's memory ('qui marque l'emplacement de Sorel').
In its insistence on a general impression, on effects of colour, light, and
atmosphere, on the limits of vision itself ('indécise'), the description can
indeed be described as 'Impressionist,' but, at the same time, the under-
lying structure provided by the grid of reference points stemming from
knowledge ('la page ouverte') and memory ('l'emplacement de Sorel')
lends it further dimensions of a rational nature. This combination of
Impressionist fluidity and architectural solidity, like those of space and
place, nature and culture, is, I contend, typical of landscape representa-
tion in Quebec.
Marie-Victorin's description from his vantage point on Beloeil Moun-
tain continues in the following paragraph (not given here) by focusing on
specific aspects of the landscape, especially the trees, but the wilderness
('la forêt primitive') has long since yielded, in this cradle of North
American civilization, to agriculture in the form of rectilinear plots that
give the landscape the appearance of a chessboard and to the lines of
roads and railways that have, as he says in the subsequent paragraph
(also not included here), imposed on nature 'ce filet aux larges mailles
qui la tient captive' (40; this wide-mesh net that holds it captive). Yet the
squares of these grids are filled in with fields of different shades of
green in spring ('tous les tons du vert'), then yellow and gold in sum-
mer ('tous les jaunes et tous les ors'), then purple and scarlet in fall ('le
pourpre et l'écarlate'), which are all expressed as nouns (the nominal
form), promoting the colour from the status of attribute to that of entity.
Variety is a product not only of the different species of trees and their
colours, but, especially of the seasons, like autumn, which brings the
complementary shades of red into contrast with the greens of spring-
time, with its flowers and mere memories of winter, which Marie-
Victorin will describe in greater detail in a later entry. At this point, he
goes on to imagine further dimensions in the landscape:
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