Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
the story, having the narrator state simply that the telling of Charles's
adventures will have to await another day (79), but does his footnote
concerning the former Saint-Anne rapids, recently replaced by locks
('l'art a défiguré l'ouvrage de la nature'[73; art has disfigured the work
of nature]), and the fact that Danis educates the Chauvin children by
singing old voyageur songs not counterweigh the narrator's earlier in-
vectives against the wilderness and those voyageurs who squander
their savings and abandon their families (unlike Charles and Danis) ? 5
Paul Perron's assessment of the role of space in constructing identity
strikes me as particularly apt for this novel: 'In the agrarian novel, the
village and the city are forbidden, negative spaces. They are the there,
the elsewhere, the contingent, the impossible, which dissolve the sub-
ject into an ego defining itself in and by its own desires. The wilder-
ness, on the other hand, is a mixed space, the beyond, where most
often the subject is absorbed, but can return to invigorate and even
save the nuclear unit of society, the family' (164). Indeed, the land-
scape in La terre paternelle , like the story itself, seems to reveal a more
complex relationship between space and place, nature and culture,
than is usually attributed to the 'rural novel,' a complexity that charac-
terizes the ambivalent nature of the French-Canadian identity, as en-
capsulated by Fernand Dumont: 'Dans les milieux agricoles souvent
confinés, l'appel des grands espaces ne cessera pas de fasciner une par-
tie de la jeunesse; ce qui explique sans doute cette alternance de
l'enracinement et du voyage qui restera un trait de la société québé-
coise.' ( Genèse , 69; In the often confined agricultural milieu, the call of
wide-open spaces will not cease to fascinate a portion of the younger
generation; which no doubt explains this alternation of entrenchment
and travel that will remain a trait of Quebecois society.) In La terre pater-
nelle , ultimately nature and farmland conjoin to defy the city, an alli-
ance also implicit in the painting of the period.
Nature and Agriculture in Painting: Légaré
Even before the novel, the short story, and Garneau's historical writ-
ing, journalism had emerged as a major vehicle for conveying, pre-
serving, and defending the French-Canadian identity, especially in the
early nineteenth century, with the appearance of the patriotic newspa-
per Le Canadien . 6 In 1833 Joseph Légaré was commissioned by Le
Canadien to produce an image for its title page, which it kept until 1836
(figure 3.1):
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