Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
stories and in the paintings of Légaré and Gagnon. The city, stigmatized
in La terre paternelle and Jean Rivard and ridiculed in La chasse-galerie and
Angéline de Montbrun , is rehabilitated in Charles Guérin and Krieghoff's
Québec vu de la pointe de Lévy and reconfigured in contemporary works
like Le premier jardin , Les aurores montréales , and Leclerc's Vue du ciel
(Québec) . These and other inherited cultural icons invariably populate
the written or painted landscape, which simultaneously depicts the
omnipresent force of nature, both forbidding and alluring. For the
French Canadian artist, if not the French ancestor or the Ontarian
counterpart (Group of Seven), both beauty and identity are constituted
by the coexistence and dynamic interplay of culture with nature.
In addition to these two operational themes of nature and culture,
identified and imposed from the outset but confirmed by analyses of
individual works and reference to numerous other critics who also
wield the two terms in tandem, 2 two other major themes have emerged
from this study, both suggesting problems that apply at once to the in-
dividual protagonist and to the French-Canadian nation: the notion of
paradise lost and that of the quest for an ideal not (yet) found.
The thematic threads suggesting a lost paradise run from the earliest,
L'Iroquoise (where the Père Mesnard's idyllic colony is destroyed and he,
rejected by his Algonquin 'flock,' is forced to leave for Huron territory),
to the most recent, Les aurores montréales (where protagonists, immigrant
and native alike, are alienated from their previous countries and their
present city) and is so prevalent as to be seized upon by Louis Hémon as
he paints his newly adopted country in Maria Chapdelaine , where the
mother constantly dreams of a 'paradis perdu' and Maria's great love,
François Paradis, is 'perdu' in a snowstorm and along with him the hope
of an ideal life. The loss of a youthful paradise is, of course, a mainstay
in Western literature and has a parallel importance and longevity in
France, for example. 3 In French-Canadian literature and painting, how-
ever, it assumes specific characteristics that make it national in nature:
the loss of paradise often involves not just expulsion, but the loss of the
father's land ( La terre , Charles Guérin ) and even the father ( Jean Rivard ,
Angéline , Le premier jardin ); at the same time, the loss is often occasioned
by other cultures: by physical force in the case of rival tribes ( L'Iroquoise ,
Louise , Cadieux ); by economic manipulation of the English-speaking for-
eigner ( La terre , Charles Guérin ); by symbol, as with the appearance of a
Maple Leaf sweater ( Le chandail ); or by the threatening presence of 'the
other' ( Les aurores montréales ). This combination of characteristics leads
us consistently to read the loss of paradise as more than a simple coming
Search WWH ::

Custom Search