Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter Six
Space, Place, and a Race That Will Not Die
The ongoing presence of the French heritage in Quebec is confirmed by
the trajectory of Louis Hémon, which complements yet reverses that of
the Quebec painters we just examined who studied in France: Hémon
was born in France and emigrated to Quebec, where he lived a mere
two years before his death in 1913. His depiction of Quebec, his elected
country, through the lens of French culture was so successful, however,
that his novel, Maria Chapdelaine: Récit du Canada français - published
posthumously in serial form in France in 1914, then as a volume in
Montreal in 1916 - has become among the most important monuments
of Quebec literature, cited reverently by even those of the purest 'laine'
('stock'), including the painters Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, who
illustrated the 1916 edition, Clarence Gagnon, who undertook an edi-
tion with colour illustrations in 1933, and Jean Paul Lemieux, who il-
lustrated certain passages in a retrospective appreciation of the work,
published in 1981 . 1 Such was the impact and influence of this novel - 'En
France, Maria Chapdelaine constitue un best-seller; au Québec, il devient
un mythe' (Biron, Dumont, and Nardout-Lafarge, 199; In France, Maria
Chapdelaine constitutes a bestseller; in Quebec, it becomes a myth) - that
Félix-Antoine Savard quotes it extensively in Menaud, maître-draveur
(1937), itself illustrated by René Richard in 1979.
Maria Chapdelaine
Set in the countryside, Maria Chapdelaine continues, even epitomizes,
the tradition of the rural novel examined in chapters three and four. The
Chapdelaine family farm occupies new land that still requires dé-
frichement , the struggle of agriculture against nature, as in Jean Rivard ,
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