Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter One
The French Heritage: From Utopia to Eden
In attempting to determine the distinctive characteristics of landscape
representation in the literature and painting of Quebec, it seems logi-
cal to begin with asking how its founding fathers saw the new conti-
nent. Fortunately, Jacques Cartier, the first European to explore the
interior of Canada in the sixteenth century, 1 and Samuel de Champlain,
the first to settle it in the seventeenth century, are both prolific de-
scribers of the landscape. When François-Xavier Garneau, Canada's
first native-born historian, retraces their voyages in his Histoire du
Canada in the mid-nineteenth century, he provides us with a unique op-
portunity not only to observe common points, which may suggest a
French heritage, but also to discern the differences that may define the
native French-Canadian perspective.
In Pierre de Grandpré's three-volume Histoire de la littérature française
du Québec , Claude Galarneau attributes the French heritage to both
mental structures - 'Ce que les Français ont apporté d'intact … c'était
leurs structures mentales' (36; What the French brought, unaltered, …
were their mental structures) - and direct communication: 'Non seule-
ment cette culture n'a jamais cessé de nous imprégner, mais encore elle
s'est faite de plus en plus dense à proportion de la facilité des moyens
de communication.' (40; Not only did this culture never cease to im-
pregnate us, but also it became more and more dense in proportion to
increasingly easy means of communication.) Whether visual heritage
is, in fact, a matter of direct influence or of inherent cultural ways of
viewing (perceptual schemata), the essential point of this study is to
seek the main common characteristics of viewing and depicting the
landscape, the resulting relationships between nature and culture, and
the implications for the question of national identity. But, whatever the
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