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homestead, set off by the wilderness and against the city - and is thus
conveyed through the representation of the landscape, again character-
ized by the juxtaposition of nature and culture. Moreover, in the two
novels explored in this chapter, as well as in certain parallel paintings
by Joseph Légaré and Cornelius Krieghoff, culture generally assumes
the form of agriculture.
Patrice Lacombe's La terre paternelle (1846) and Pierre-Joseph-Olivier
Chauveau's Charles Guérin (1846-53) have been designated not only as
the first 'rural' or 'agrarian' novels, but also as uniquely French Canadian. 1
But, when the two novels are looked at together with a focus on the
landscape, what appears as most uniquely French Canadian is the loss
of the father's land ('la terre paternelle'), a loss whose significance we
attempt to probe throughout this chapter.
La terre paternelle : Culture and Agriculture
Patrice Lacombe's La terre paternelle (1846), as the title implies, high-
lights the land as the primary repository of identity, both personal
(through the family) and national (through agriculture). In this sense, it
is emblematic not only of the rural novel, but also of the nineteenth-
century French-Canadian novel in general, dedicated as it was to pre-
serving the survival of the race through the advocacy of country life
(see Servais-Maquoi, 10).
Recounted by a third-person narrator, who doesn't hesitate to make
his presence and opinions known by addressing the reader directly, the
novel begins by locating a specific 'place' called 'Gros-Sault' on the
northern part of the île de Montréal, whose surroundings are then pre-
sented as a visual spectacle, indeed a painting. The literary canvas itself
unfurls progressively, extending over several paragraphs, beginning
with a description of the natural setting:
La branche de l'Outaouais qui, en cet endroit, prend le nom de 'Rivière des
Prairies' y roule ses eaux impétueuses et profondes, jusqu'au bout de l'île,
où elle les réunit à celles du Saint-Laurent. Une forêt de beaux arbres res-
pectés du temps et de la hache du cultivateur, couvre dans une grande
étendue, la côte et le rivage. Quelques-uns, déracinés en partie par la force
du courant, se penchent sur les eaux, et semblent se mirer dans le cristal
limpide qui baigne leurs pieds. Une riche pelouse s'étend comme un beau
tapis vert sous ces arbres dont la cime touffue offre une ombre impénétra-
ble aux ardeurs du soleil. [27; The branch of the Ottawa River which, at
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