Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
(presumably Flora Fontanges) and thus of her identity ('qui la dé-
signera') will have to wait several years for the young woman, while
conjectures about its significance for the reader will have to await the
novel's third segment
Advancing again to the episode of Fantine, which occasioned our re-
turn to the past, the aging Flora is by now fully conscious of the 'role
played' by acting itself in her desire to assume multiple selves: 'Il fau-
drait avoir neuf vies. Les essayer toutes à tour de rôle. Se multiplier neuf
fois. Neuf fois neuf fois … Étrange pouvoir de métamorphoses. Le plus
beau métier du monde.' (113-14; She should have nine lives. Try out
each one in turn. Multiply herself by nine. Nine times nine … The strange
power of metamorphosis. The finest profession in the world [92].)
Several stimulating studies highlight Flora's use of the theatre to
cope with the chaos of her existence: Detailing the links unifying ritual,
theatre, and procession (458) and tracing Flora's propensity for mobi-
lizing the spatial configuration of the procession ( cortège ) to order her
memories of people and events, Constantina Mitchell and Paul Côté
conclude that 'de même que le théâtre servait de tampon entre Flora et
ce qu'elle ne voulait pas admettre, la puissance ritualisante du cortège
l'aide finalement à franchir cette impasse pour affronter momentané-
ment les forces de l'existence et du destin' (460; just as the theatre served
as a buffer between Flora and what she didn't want to admit, the ritual
power of the procession helps her finally to break this impasse in order
to momentarily confront the forces of existence and destiny). Daniel
Marcheix, citing Flora's use of theatrical formulas to wrest meaningful
discourse from the formless mass that comprises preverbal experience,
contends that 'le jeu théâtral, de nature profondément féminine et mater-
nelle, est ici considéré comme … un véritable creuset matriciel d'insuffler
la vie' (331; theatrical acting, profoundly feminine and maternal in na-
ture, is considered here as a veritable womb-like crucible for infusing
life). In both cases, the reconstruction of personal identity, by imposing
theatrical order on psychological chaos, would seem to mirror the cre-
ation of national identity by imposing culture on nature that we have
been witnessing in Quebec landscape representation. Indeed, in an in-
terview from as early as 1960, Hébert herself underscored the intimate
link between landscape and identity: 'La terre que nous habitons depuis
trois cents ans est terre du Nord et terre d'Amérique; nous lui apparte-
nons comme la flore et la faune. Le climat et le paysage nous ont façon-
nés aussi bien que toutes les contingences historiques, culturelles,
religieuses et linguistiques.' (The land that we've inhabited for three
 
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