Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
darkness by the third-person, present-tense narrator, whose informa-
tion is limited to that which passes through the main character's centre
of consciousness. 2 The limited nature of the narrator, powerless to
identify what the character cannot or will not raise to consciousness,
thus itself reinforces the problem of identity in this complex and pro-
found novel.
Not only is the main character not identifiable with any certainty, but
also her destination, a faraway city in the New World to which she has
been summoned by two letters of unspecified origin, is not identified,
nor will it be in the course of the novel because no doubt it's a dreaded
place where she had sworn to never again set foot (10), despite or per-
haps due to the fact that it's her birth city. The separate letters that coin-
cidentally occasion this broken vow, we learn in due course as they
cross her field of consciousness, come from a director proposing the
role of Winnie in Beckett's Oh! les beaux jours ( Happy Days ) and from her
daughter Maud, whom she hasn't seen in a year.
Upon her arrival, someplace in North America, Flora is greeted by
the director, but not by her mysteriously missing daughter, and the
reader is confronted by the first of many partial descriptions that allow
us to construct the city and, for those familiar with it (that is, through
memory), its identity:
Il n'y a plus de gare. Une baraque en plein champ en tient lieu. Le train
s'arrête dans un terrain vague … La nuit. La rase campagne. Au loin, des
guirlandes de lumière dessinent des rues. La nuit partout. Quelques taxis
immobiles sur une file. Des éphémères dansent dans le rayon des phares
… A chaque éclat de néon signalant un motel ou un poulet barbecue, elle
ferme les yeux. Voudrait se fondre dans la nuit. Anywhere out of this world .
Son angoisse est de ne pas sentir la vie où elle se trouve. Et, en même
temps, cela l'arrange. Tout ce qu'elle espère, c'est qu'il ne se produise rien
(ni heurt ni émotion) entre la ville et elle, avant son arrivée à l'hôtel, rue
Sainte-Anne. Elle ne veut pas se souvenir que sa fausse grand-mère habi-
tait la vieille ville et qu'il fallait franchir l'enceinte des murs pour aller
déjeuner chez elle, tous les dimanches. [13; There is no train station now. A
shed in the middle of a field stands in its place. The train stops in a vacant
lot ... Night. Open country. Garlands of light trace distant streets. On all
sides, night. Taxis in line, motionless. Mayflies dance in headlights' beams
… At every flash of neon that indicates a motel or barbequed chicken, she
shuts her eyes. Wishes she could melt into the night. Anywhere out of this
world . Is anxious because she feels there is no life here, where she is at the
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