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Commémorer c'est donc remplir de sens les intervalles entre les temps
mythiques évoqués; c'est s'appuyer sur des dates relais. Toute commémo-
ration est une commémoration relais qui lie des dates secondaires au
temps principal; toute commémoration est renvoi à des commémorations
antérieures; toute commémoration tend à être, en somme, une mémoire de
mémoires, ces mémoires en cascade qui renvoient jusqu'à un point limite
du temps mythique [143-4]. Il est donc de l'essence de la commémoration
de rendre contemporains, par une fiction théâtrale, le temps présent, le
temps passé, le temps mythique d'une part, le temps présent et le temps
futur d'autre part. Commémorer c'est donc jouer au présent, le théâtre du
passé. [160; Commemorating thus involves filling the intervals between
the evoked mythic times with meaning; it involves relying on relay dates.
Any commemoration is a relay commemoration that links secondary
dates to the principal time frame; any commemoration is a reference to
earlier commemorations; in short any commemoration tends to be a
memory of memories, cascading memories that refer to an end point in
mythic time … It is thus the nature of commemoration to bring together,
through theatrical fiction, present time, past time, and mythic time on the
one hand; present time and future time on the other. Commemorating
thus involves playing out in the present a scene from the past.]
Namer's description of the French commemoration process following
the Second World War provides a striking parallel to the set of cascad-
ing narrators who serve not only to relate but also to relay the legend-
ary episode from the past through various points along the temporal
continuum until it reaches the present, where its written configuration
awaits future readers like us. Moreover, the story's changing narrative
status underscores both a waning faith in a single 'authoritative' nar-
rator and the importance of the oral tradition among the largely illiter-
ate early French Canadians, yet it also marks the necessity of the
written work (both Mesnard's manuscript and the anonymous au-
thor's published story itself) for ultimately preserving cultural heri-
tage. It is fitting that the first page of the story be devoted to storytelling,
itself an essential ingredient in the memorializing process, as Namer
contends (159-61).
Once the narrative frame is set in place, it is equally fitting for that
same memorialization process that Bouchard's story begin with a
lengthy landscape description, only part of which is given here, depict-
ing the Frenchman's arrival on the western shores of Lake Huron at
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