Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter Three
The Father's Land Lost:
Country versus City in the Early Novel
Like the first short stories (chapter two) and Garneau's historical writing
(chapter one), the French-Canadian novel arose during the tumultuous
period of the 1830s and '40s and, to a large degree, reflects the issues it
engendered, which in turn influence the particular form (or formless-
ness) taken by the novel, as Réjean Robidoux and André Renaud argue:
Le roman canadien-français a pris, dès son apparition, une direction très
précise. Sa naissance, dans les années troubles où fut institué le régime
politique de l'Union des Canadas, coïncide avec une prise de conscience
nationale … Les romanciers devaient se conformer avant tout à l'impéra-
tif d'une mission para-littéraire, utilisant le roman comme un genre mul-
tiple où la fiction se mêlait avec plus ou moins de bonheur à l'histoire, à
la politique, au journalisme. [22; The French-Canadian novel took a very
precise direction from its inception. Its birth, in the troubled years when
the political regime of the union of Canadas was instituted, coincides
with an awakening of national consciousness. Novelists had to conform
above all to the imperative of a para-literary mission, using the novel as a
multiple genre where fiction mixed more or less successfully with history,
politics, journalism.]
If the early short story tends to turn towards the past and portray a
struggle for survival against the wilderness and the Amerindian, the
novel, as suggested by its name, focuses on the new, the contemporary,
and sees the struggle for personal, family, and national identity (inevi-
tably conjoined) largely as a matter of economics, with the bourgeois
and the British becoming the principal adversaries. Whoever or what-
ever the combatants, the struggle invariably involves the land - the
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