Travel Reference
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the broad brushwork, and the upward movement of the mountain
matched by that of the trees in the foreground create a sense of har-
mony that implies a union of nature and observer through the medium
of art. The assessment of Richard's art by his friend Dr Urgel Pelletier
seems particularly apt for this monumental painting: 'Ce qui caracté-
rise d'ailleurs ce peintre c'est qu'il a su, par la fraîcheur et la richesse de
son coloris, par l'assurance et la force de son coup de pinceau, traduire le
décor naturel de notre pays en lui conservant tout son pittoresque et sa
beauté grandiose.' (150; What characterizes this painter incidentally is
that, by the freshness and richness of his colours, by the assurance and
power of his brushwork, he knew how to translate the natural landscape
of our country while preserving its scenic beauty and grandeur.) 16
This first encounter with the mountain in part two follows the pat-
tern established in part one, in which an aspect of nature leads to dis-
coveries, first about the self, then about art. Further episodes involve
the same three components - nature, self, art - but sequenced differ-
ently and often triggered by encounters with other human beings.
While Pierre is painting, for example, Orok comes to join him and
shares his food, just as Pierre shares his paints and knowledge with the
Eskimo. As much as Pierre enjoys the company, he is anxious for the
solitude that will favour painting and is not sorry to see Orok leave so
that he can explore further directions in his work, such as a resolution to
the problem of fragmentation inherent in painting: 'Il sut comment faire:
non pas un seul grand tableau ainsi que son ambition trop avide l'avait
d'abord voulu, mais une série de petits tableaux, chacun envisageant un
biais particulier, arrachant à la montagne un peu de sa réalité; et cela,
réuni, ce serait la Resplendissante.' (87-8; He suddenly realized how he
should proceed. He must not attempt a single, large painting, as his too
eager ambition had at first proposed, but rather a series of small pic-
tures, each concerned with one special angle, tearing from the mountain
a portion of its reality. And these, taken all together, would be the
Resplendent One [89].) The mountain will acquire its full meaning not at
once, but over time, through a series of conjoined images that together
constitute its essence, much like Monet's haystacks or Cézanne's Mont
Sainte-Victoire or, as Pierre will later discover, much like the self, and as
the reader will come to realize, much like the novel itself.
As Pierre works on the series, he begins to find some satisfaction, but
he learns paradoxically that while solitude is necessary for discovery,
others are necessary to validate not only his work but also his humanity
through a type of union ('entente') effected by art (91-2). Painting, for
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