Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
King François I, in a dedication to the second voyage, his hope to 'sow'
and 'plant' the Christian faith on the North American people, just as
had happened in the Holy Land: 'Notre très sainte foi a été semée et
plantée en la Terre Sainte' (159). The French explorer had already noted
in his previous voyage that certain 'bandes' would be ripe for convert-
ing: 'Nous vîmes que ce sont des gens qui seraient faciles à convertir,
qui vont d'un lieu à l'autre' (142; We saw that these were people who
would be easy to convert, going from one place to another), a percep-
tion based on their nomadic nature, lacking a 'place' and thus a 'cul-
ture' of their own. During the second visit, he finds another group
similarly ripe for colonizing and asks (his) God's blessing for the even-
tual accomplishment of this task: 'De ce que nous avons connu et pu
comprendre de ce peuple, il me semble qu'il serait aisé à dompter, de la
façon et manière que l'on voudrait. Dieu, dans sa sainte miséricorde, y
veuille porter son regard. Amen.' (215; From what we have learned and
understood about these people, it seems to me that they would be eas-
ily tamed, however one wanted. May God, in His holy mercy, turn His
attention to this task. Amen.)
In short, just as Cartier tends to see the North American landscape in
terms of its capacity for being cultivated, he also perceives its natives as
easy to convert and colonize; both the land and its people are ready to
bear the stamp of European civilization. That Cartier sees nature in purely
utilitarian terms is hardly surprising, since he was a navigator writing for
a European audience that he was determined to convince of the value of
his discoveries; however, the specific format of his descriptions, focusing
on the uniform 'place' detached and distinguished from the vast (and, for
him, less interesting if not outright ugly) 'space' of the surrounding wil-
derness, provides a concrete starting point, a 'récit fondateur' (Allard, 30)
or 'Ur narrative' (Perron, 42) and, from our perspective, a 'founding de-
piction' or 'ur-description' from which to explore his 'descendants.'
Champlain: The French Imprint
Samuel de Champlain's descriptions of the North American landscape
are remarkably similar to Cartier's, an influence that may be consid-
ered as 'direct' (he had read Cartier carefully, replicated his route inland
up the Saint Lawrence River, and carried his compatriot's text with
him) or 'indirect' (both men see in a culturally conditioned manner that
is typically 'French' and 'utopian'). Whatever the source, the pattern is
unmistakable, beginning with the linking of beauty and utility. Consider
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