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make them explode into a myriad of scenes, paintings, and viewpoints …
Could it be otherwise with 'lived space'? Unless thought, language,
dreams are phenomena totally foreign to the human species, irrevocably
excluded from the field of experience, one must recognize that the 'lived
space' of the Chapdelaines is also the United States, the Mistassini River,
and Saint-André-de-l'Épouvante. Spatial experience doesn't proceed by
subtraction or by exclusion; each place adds itself to another and completes
it … Read from this perspective, Louis Hémon's work becomes a 'novel of
the Earth' rather than a so-called 'novel of the earth.'] 18
Coincidentally, but significantly, Guy Robert finds just such an open-
ness in Lemieux's painting, itself an exploration of modern Quebec
identity: 'L'horizon de son regard refuse le carcan d'étroites frontières
et, grâce à des artistes comme lui, la réalité québécoise ne se réduit pas
à un décor ou une étiquette, mais offre une façon parmi d'autres d'être
homme, avec les inhérentes difficultés et la quote-part de paradoxe et
d'ambiguïté. Ouverture sur le monde, et non plus renfrognement dans
ses complexes ou béate contemplation de son nombril. Les pieds bien
plantés dans l'humus d'ici, mais le regard au large, vers ce pays à in-
venter à travers visages et paysages, comme on s'invente d'abord au
plus profond de soi.' ( Lemieux , 268-9; The horizon of his gaze refuses
the yoke of narrow borders and, thanks to artists like him, the reality of
Quebec cannnot be reduced to a decor or a label, but offers a way
among others to be human, with its inherent difficulties and share of
paradox and ambiguity. Opening onto the world and no longer sullen
in its complexes or blissful contemplation of its belly button. Its feet
well planted into this humus, but its gaze towards the horizon, towards
this land to invent through faces and landscapes, as one invents oneself
in the depths of one's self.)
Indeed, in explaining his reason for returning to Maria Chapdelaine ,
an icon of Quebec literature and culture, Lemieux himself stresses,
rather, its universality: 'J'aime à penser que cette vaillance persiste. Il y
a quelque chose d'immuable, d'humain et d'universel qui m'attache à
MARIA CHAPDELAINE.' (3; I like to think that this valiance persists.
There is something immutable, human, and universal that attaches me
to MARIA CHAPDELAINE.) In remarkably similar fashion Clarence
Gagnon stated that his purpose in illustrating Maria Chapdelaine was to
catch the spirit of Canada and French-Canadian life, which the topic
immortalizes, but that 'it is Canadian yet universal in its picture of a
struggle where people are determined to maintain their own religion,
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