part. Bonniec is especially moved by the one study of the mountain that
Pierre had managed to save, a work in striking greens and an intense
luminosity ('un lointain invisible, lumineux' [104; a distance invisible,
luminous]) that suggests spirituality, a perception whose formulation
and inclusion in the novel adds a further dimension to our own under-
standing of Pierre's and Richard's painting as well as of Roy's writing.
Bonniec, who knows a lot about life and art, muses at length on the
nature of art: 'Créer, se dit-il, comme s'il ne le découvrait qu'à l'instant,
n'est-ce pas de toute son âme protester? À moins … à moins, ajouta-t-il
songeur, que ce ne soit une secrète collaboration.' (103; 'To create,' he
muttered to himself, as though he had only just discovered it, 'is this
not to protest with all one's soul … unless,' he added, deep in thought,
'it be indeed a secret collaboration' .) But to whom, against what,
on behalf of what is the protestation? What kind of collaboration does
Bonniec have in mind, and with whom? The reader, like Pierre, is left to
wrestle with such questions as part two comes to a close and Pierre
leaves for an exhibition in Montreal arranged by Bonniec.
Throughout the second part of the novel Pierre has had a series of
encounters and made several discoveries - about nature, about art,
about himself, and about others - he has a strong intuition of their im-
portance, but not (yet) an understanding of their meaning, which he
continues to pursue in part three.
Part Three: Solidarity
After probing nature for the secrets of self and art in parts one and
two, in part three Pierre probes art for the secrets of nature and self -
'Comme naguère par des montagnes et des fleuves, aujourd'hui, par
des noms: Titien, le Greco, Renoir, Gauguin, il se sentait appelé' (114;
As earlier he had been summoned by the mountains and the rivers,
now it was by names - Titian, El Greco, Renoir, Gauguin - he felt called
). He thus begins to approach the twin questions of his quest -
what the world would have of him, and he of the world - through the
intermediary of art.
In the wake of what turns out to be a successful exhibition in Montreal,
Pierre is awarded a government grant to study in France, where, ex-
posed to great works, he increases his reflections on art, several of
which are included here, not only for the insights they shed on Pierre,
but especially on Roy and Richard, seen as one by François Ricard,
Roy's premier biographer ('Une rencontre,' 6).