their appearance ('fraîchement lavées'). The set-like setting reminds us
of the novel's epigraph, 'All the world's a stage' (7), from Shakespeare's
As You Like It (act two, scene seven), an impression conveyed also by the
contemporary painter Raynald Leclerc in his painting of the rue Sainte-
Anne, titled S'éclate la lumière (bursting with sunlight) (plate 13), an ex-
pression that resonates well with Hébert's 'éclaboussée de lumière'
(splashed with sunlight).
In his book of paintings, Au cœur du Vieux-Québec , Leclerc takes the
reader/viewer on a tour of the city's landmarks, during which he un-
derscores their historical significance. For the rue Sainte-Anne, for ex-
ample, he notes, '“un peu de rouge et un peu de poudre sur tes joues et
te voilà lumineuse de beauté…” Sur cette rue, aujourd'hui piétonnière,
on a construit en 1790 la première salle de spectacle de Québec' (52; a
touch of red, a little powder on your cheeks, and your beauty will shine.
This street, today reserved for pedestrians, was home to Quebec City's
first real playhouse). The rue Sainte-Anne is thus not only the site of the
city's first theatre, but Leclerc also sees it as decked out like an actress,
certainly a fitting point of reference and return for Flora Fontanges dur-
ing her peregrinations throughout the city. For Leclerc, the thick paint,
applied in broad strokes with a spatula, mimics the 'mascara' that
adorns the street, personified as an actress, and despite the vertical
blocking used to capture the closed-in feeling of the street, the open
foreground with piles of snow in alternating purple and white strokes,
picked up in the buildings, lends the street the luminous effect alluded
to in the painting's title. In effect, the uneven application of paint not
only captures the varied texture of the undulating snow piles, but it
also reflects light off the surface of the canvas in dazzlingly different
ways. If the Impressionists can be said to use light to dissolve matter,
for Leclerc, light itself has a material quality imparted by the heavy
impasto and vivid colours, which has led Michel Blois to title a recent
article on Leclerc 'Sculpter la lumière' (112; sculpting light).
Disturbed by the absence of Maud, a perennial runaway (18), Flora
meets with her daughter's lover, Raphaël, at a cafe on a major thorough-
fare, la Grande-Allée, again a recognizable landmark of Quebec City:
La Grande-Allée, dans ses oripeaux de théâtre, s'allonge jusqu'à la porte
Saint-Louis … Ni naissances ni morts (sauf accident) à l'intérieur des mai-
sons de pierre badigeonnées de couleur. Mais où sont les gens? Les vrais.
Ceux qui ont eu vie liée avec les boiseries sombres, les sous-sols incommo-
des, les escaliers tuants, les étages empilés, les cheminées ronflantes. Se