Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
for the best mode of access to the fruit, he discovered a small cavity in the
rock, that so much resembled a berth in a ship as to appear to have been
the joint work of nature and art. It had probably supplied the savage hun-
ter or fisherman with a place of repose, for it was strewed with decayed
leaves, so matted together as to form a luxurious couch for one accusto-
med for many months to sleeping on a blanket, spread on the bare
ground. After possessing himself of the berries, Bouchard crept into the
recess, and he forgot for a while the tangled forests, and the wide unbro-
ken wilderness that interposed between him and his country. He listened
to the soft musical sounds of the light waves, as they broke on the shel-
ving rock and reedy bank: and he gazed on the bright element which
reflected the blue vault of heaven, and the fleecy summer cloud. (The
Iroquoise, 40-2)]
The description is clearly structured around the contrast between vast
space and enclosed place. Indeed, the very vastness of the space ('de
vastes forêts'), its isolation ('une immense solitude'), and discomfort
('la terre nue'), coupled with nostalgia for his homeland ('séparé de son
pays') cause Bouchard to seek a safe place ('un lieu de refuge,' 'petit
espace,' 'petite cavité,' 'un lieu de repos'). The author's subsequent de-
scription of this sheltered place further humanizes it, through architec-
tural comparisons ('en forme d'amphithéâtre,' 'demi-cercle,' 'ce temple
de la nature,' 'la voûte azurée des cieux'), personifications ('semblaient
couronner d'une guirlande le front chauve du précipice'), and compari-
sons with the French landscape ('les heureuses vallées de la France'),
which lead to an overall impression of the coupling of culture and
nature ('l'art s'était joint à la nature').
Bouchard's story continues with yet another natural place, a natural
excavation, described in architectural terms as a pyramid (29), namely
the resting place of Mesnard and the hiding place of his manuscript,
both of which can be characterized as lieux de mémoire , repositories of
significant cultural artefacts: first the place, as described by Bouchard's
Indian guide ('Ce doit être l'endroit dont j'ai souvent entendu parler
nos anciens. Un homme de bien y est mort' [29; This must be the place
of which I have so often heard our ancients speak: a good man died
here (44)]), then the manuscript, carefully preserved by Bouchard ('Il
conserva le manuscrit comme une relique sainte; et celui qui tomba
dans les mains de notre voyageur, chez le cultivateur canadien, était
une copie qu'il en avait tirée pour l'envoyer en France. L'original avait
été écrit par le P. Mesnard, dont la mémoire vénérée avait consacré la
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