Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
The first sentence, for example, immediately following the epigraph
and right before the outset of the reading, sets the viewpoint (the win-
dow) and the viewer (Menaud) - 'Menaud était assis à sa fenêtre et
replié sur lui-même' (23; Menaud was seated by the window and ab-
sorbed in himself) - and suggests a psychological or ideological dimen-
sion ('replié sur lui même'). On the next page, as Menaud murmurs the
words 'rien n'a changé' (nothing has changed) from Hémon's novel,
the reader discovers the object of his perception, the distant mountains
- 'Violemment, à coups secs, il secoua sa pipe sur son talon, s'appuya,
un instant, au cadre de la fenêtre, regarda du côté des libres montagnes,
qu'on pouvait encore distinguer au loin' (24; Violently, with sharp taps,
he emptied his pipe against his heel, leaned for an instant on the win-
dow frame, gazed out towards the free mountains, which one could
still make out in the distance); the adverb 'violently' captures the
strength of his emotions, while the adjective qualifying the mountains,
'free,' highlighted by its unusual placement in French before the noun,
both indicates the strength of his desire and suggests the origin of his
frustrations, the lost freedom of the native French Canadian due to the
'foreigner,' who had just been mentioned in Marie's reading.
Both the textual citation and the description continue on the next page,
as Menaud mumbles 'une race qui ne sait pas mourir,' then moves from
the window to the door, as if to escape from the confines of his house
towards the distant mountains, already signalled as a symbol of free-
dom: 'Puis, il ouvrit la porte toute grande; et, dans le soir immobile, il
contempla longtemps la campagne endormie, laissant ses regards voler
jusqu'aux horizons lointains, et revenir ainsi que des engoulevents au
nid de ses pensées.' (25; Then he thrust the door wide open; and, in the
immobile evening, he contemplated the sleeping countryside for a long
time, allowing his gaze to fly as far as the distant horizons, and return
like nighthawks to the nest of his thoughts.) The tension between his
own 'immobility,' projected onto the evening, and his desire for escape,
captured by the 'flight' of his gaze, is coupled with a movement between
the external landscape (the mountains) and his internal thoughts, re-
vealed by a metaphor borrowed from nature ('nighthawks … nest') and
applied to his thoughts, yet which also alludes to his home.
The landscape description is then combined with a portrait - 'L'homme
était beau à voir. Droit et fort malgré la soixantaine. La vie dure avait
décharné à fond son visage, y creusant des rigoles et des rides de misère,
et le colorant des mêmes ocres et des mêmes gris que les maisons, les
rochers et les terres de Mainsal' (25; The man was handsome to look at.
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