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89; If the underlying composition of Suzor-Coté's work produces the im-
age of a rigid society seeking to preserve the present state of things,
Clarence Gagnon's, to the contrary, relies on a value system that makes a
dominant principle of change, of evolution.) 8
Jean Paul Lemieux, however, found Suzor-Coté's illustrations too anec-
dotal - 'C'est une suite de têtes au fusain sans aucun paysage' (5; It's a
series of charcoal heads without any landscape) - and Gagnon's too colour-
ful: 'Je trouvais son oeuvre haute en couleurs, pour exprimer un pays si
austère.' (I found his work colourful for expressing such a harsh land.) 9
Lemieux's own illustrations, which comprised ten photolithographs, in-
cluding this one of the initial scene, L'église de Péribonka (figure 6.3), are
much more atmospheric, even 'metaphysical' (Boulizon, 164).
Although again a combination of nature and culture, Lemieux's paint-
ing shows the church and the parishioners dwarfed, even lost in a seem-
ingly desolate landscape, whose immensity is underscored by the
amount of snow, taking up the entire foreground, set against the indis-
tinctly rendered background and the horizon line. Although the distant
horizon line often serves to enhance the melancholy of Lemieux's works
(Carani, 244-5), its dominant presence also suggests an aura of spiritual-
ity for Guy Robert: 'Le cosmos murmure, sur cette ligne d'horizon où
tentent de se définir réciproquement le ciel et la terre, l'ailleurs et l'ici, le
temps et l'espace.' ( Jean , 56; The cosmos murmurs on this horizon line
where sky and earth, elsewhere and here, time and space attempt to
define themselves reciprocally.) 10 On the other hand, human cultural ac-
tivity seems inconsequential in relation to the vast wilderness and un-
brokenly hostile climate, 'le silence et l'espace démesurés' (Dubé, 108),
for the austere Lemieux, often considered, nonetheless, as one of
Quebec's most representative painters. 11 This seeming paradox is, ac-
cording to Dennis Reid's assessment of Lemieux's paintings, at the very
heart of the French-Canadian identity: 'Moody, simplified studies of
strong sentiment, they confront the solitude the Québécois has trad-
itionally felt in his struggle with a harsh climate and an isolating social
environment. By implication they celebrate “la survivance” of the basic
values of the true Quebec' ( A Concise History , 289). 12
In comparing the three artists' renditions of the opening scene, I find
that Gagnon strikes a balance between the emphasis on human activity
in Suzor-Coté and the desolation of the landscape for Lemieux, a bal-
ance I also find true of (and to) Hémon's text. In this regard I would
concur with Patricia Demers's contention, derived from her analysis of
the first chapter, that 'the much commented on allusions to gloom, dep-
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