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of age, but rather as a parable for the loss of fatherland at the time of the
Conquest, the loss of father figures in the wake of the failed patriots'
rebellions, or the threat of assimilation by English-speaking Canada and
invasion by immigrants.
The elusive ideal sought by numerous characters takes many forms,
from material entities like the mountain ( Menaud , La montagne ), to places
like the mysterious North ( La terre , Maria , La montagne ) and intangible
notions like love ( Maria ), spirituality ( Angéline ), creativity (Lapointe,
Borduas, Riopelle), and in works too numerous to mention, identity it-
self. The quest for an ideal is, if anything, an even more universal theme
than that of paradise lost, but again takes on particular characteristics in
its French-Canadian versions, translated, as we have seen, by the land-
scape. The common feeling of being 'stranded' or 'abandoned' (both by
the father and by society) often prompts the protagonist to seek his or
her individual identity, beyond that of the family or reigning cultural
paradigm, and hence in another 'space': France for Pierre Guérin,
Maurice Darville, Pierre Cadorai, the Canadian Impressionists, Borduas,
and Riopelle; the city for Charles Guérin, Flora Fontanges, and the nar-
rators of Proulx's Les aurores ; the new uncolonized cantons for Charles
Guérin, Jean Rivard, and Samuel Chapdelaine; the North for Charles
Rivard, François Paradis, Pierre Cadorai, and Gilles Vigneault. The in-
evitable 'voyage' that leads to 'discovery' takes the protagonist to an-
other cultural experience in the first cases, and in the latter ones to the
natural space of the North American wilderness - the river, the forest,
and the mountain - where he or she, often imitating ancestral avatars
like the voyageur and the coureur de bois, discovers the natural self and
thereby rejuvenates the cultural self, an identitary coupling to which we
return in short order.
Both of these themes, paradise lost and an ideal pursued, imply the
passage of time - the first pointing towards the past, the second to-
wards the future - and thus bring considerable nuance to the oft-
repeated phrase in Maria that nothing changes in Quebec ('au pays de
Québec rien ne change'). 4 At the same time, to the degree that their
backward and forward movements, respectively, are contradictory yet
coexistent, they confirm Jocelyn Létourneau's definition of identity,
Gérard Namer's description of commemoration, and Fernand Dumont's
notion of cultural doubling.
Indeed, most remarkably, nearly every work examined, even those
considered conservative, invokes an image or an insight that tran-
scends culture in the concrete sense of icons and idols, termed 'culture
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