Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
an effect of white dots ('points blancs'), lit up by the sun ('que le soleil
allume'), marks the places occupied by various villages ('les villages').
A pure impression might stop here, but the identity of the various vil-
lages is given in the following sentence, as memory intervenes to sup-
plement perception, and the personified description of the villages as
'enivrés de lumière et de paix' seems less an observation about reality
('regarder') than a projection on the part of the observers ('rêver').
Water shimmers, and poles, mere slashes of line, tremble in the hands
of invisible fishermen ('tremblent les fines perches de la pêche') - the
order of the elements again foregrounding the visual effect rather than
its absent cause. Out of this immense space ('espace immense') domi-
nated by effects of light, the viewers then perceive before and below
them ('devant nous') amorphous masses of sticky kelp ('varech gluant')
until they finally focus on a specific place at the centre of the landscape
('le centre du paysage') and on the object occupying it ('la croix'). This
cultural artefact then restores structure and solidity ('entre les pyrami-
des sombres des épinettes') to the scene, and though it appears to dream
to the dreaming viewers, this is a dream based on the past, as the place
serves to recollect and memorialize the priest who had once preached
there. Indeed, the landscape itself, which began as a pure impression of
vast space, then focused on a precise place, which constitutes a spatial
centre and a temporal lieu de mémoire , performs its own ritual by resur-
recting the past, and with it an essential aspect of French-Canadian
identity, in this case religion.
The subsequent sketch from the chapter on 'L'île aux Coudres,' enti-
tled 'Le couchant,' also begins in Impressionist fashion: 'À ce moment
le paysage tout entier s'abandonne à la lumière horizontale, au silence
et à l'espace. Le ciel est d'un bleu tendre, d'un bleu transparent, d'un
bleu de rien qui veut se faire pardonner d'être encore bleu quand tout
se dore à la caresse du soleil.' (At that moment the landscape gives itself
over entirely to the horizontal light, to silence, and to space. The sky is
of tender blue, a transparent blue, an insignificant blue that wants to be
pardoned for still being blue when everything else is gilded by the
sun's caress.) Here the landscape itself is personified ('s'abandonne') as
it yields to the light of the setting sun, which creates a vast and uni-
form space ('espace'), in which the sky is filled with varying effects of
blue colour, rendered as a noun ('un bleu'), again personified ('veut se
faire pardonner') and set against the uniform land ('tout'), which the
sun encrusts in its complementary colour, gold ('se dore'). Here ob-
jects themselves have disappeared before the dominant effects of light,
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