Travel Reference
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brand-new and fresh again on the land that gave her birth, as on the first
day, without memory. The story to come has no visible thread, is appar-
ently unraveled, gleaming and quick, like mercury which breaks apart,
re-forms and flees [110].) For Flora, beset by bad dreams and anxiety,
unable to form relationships, even with her daughter, and torn by inner
conflict as one set of her selves represses others, the decision to resurrect
the past is compelling. The recurrent simile used to describe its mecha-
nism ('pareille au mercure qui se casse, se reforme et fuit') conveys not
only the modes of Flora's consciousness but also those of Hébert's writ-
ing and the reader's experience with the text (see also page 39). The de-
scription of Flora's 'story' as 'sans fil visible, apparemment décousue,
vive et brillante' is, of course, an apt description of Hébert's own style
and thus of the novel itself, making the mercury metaphor a striking
marker of 'metatextuality' or, to borrow a term from Janet Paterson's
superb study of Hébert's early novels, 'self-representation.' 18 In other
words, the mercury analogy, while 'representing' Flora's consciousness,
also suggests the text itself, which thus becomes 'self-representing' by
displaying its very means, modes, and mechanisms. Anne Hébert has
openly acknowledged the analogy between Flora's creative processes
and her own: 'J'ai essayé de transposer ce que c'est que la création de
personnages, pour moi, en décrivant la manière dont Flora Fontanges
crée ses rôles.' (I tried to transpose my way of creating characters by de-
scribing Flora Fontanges' manner of creating roles.) 19 Thus Le premier jar-
din is, in Paterson's terms, both a 'representation' of the actress Flora
Fontanges and a 'self-representation' of the novelist Anne Hébert.
Similarly Raynald Leclerc states from the opening words of his preface
that his project of painting scenes from Quebec's past stems from his
desire to recapture and depict his own apprenticeship as an artist, 'les
sources de l'inspiration premère' (3; my initial sources of inspiration). His
landscapes thus 'represent' Quebec landmarks while 'self-representing'
the painter's struggles to paint them. Moreover, on the most concrete
level, akin to Hébert's mercury metaphor, Leclerc's use of heavy impasto
both represents snow banks on Sainte-Anne street or irregular stone on
the Saint-Louis gate, while also bringing the viewer's attention to the
paint itself on the surface of the canvas, and thus to the very act and fact
of painting. Certainly this quality of artistic self-consciousness and the
foregrounding of artistry are persistent traits of landscape representa-
tion in Quebec writing and painting, especially in the twentieth century
when art itself becomes the primary conveyer of culture in its intricate
interplay with nature.
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