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Canadian Fiction - Book Report/Review Example

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Thedescendants of the French-speaking peasants who continued to stay in Quebec after the French lost their North American territories to the British in the 1760s are called FrenchCanadians. The French Canadian literature is based on the nationalistic feelings of the French-speaking habitants the majority of whom are Roman Catholics and on their feeling of alienation from the mainstream consisting of English-speaking, primarily Protestant culture in North America…
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Canadian Fiction
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Download file to see previous pages In this paper I present a comparative analysis of two works of Canadian fiction -- Louis Hemon's novel Marie Chapdelaine (1914) and Roch Carrier's short story The Hockey Sweater (1979) -- which are considered as classics of Canadian literature. In fact, French Canadian fiction achieved greatness with the publication of Maria Chapdelaine. It is a landmark in the history of French Canadian novel as it set the tone and theme for later writers. In spite of not being a French Canadian but French himself, Hemon has been successful in depicting the isolated community:
"The cold whiteness, the tiny churches tucked away in the midst of the forest, a few wooden houses sparsely laid out along the road, the dark edge of the forest, so close that it appears to be a threat - all these indicate a tough life in a hostile country." (7)
It may seem that such descriptions would not appeal to the present-day readers of the novel as Quebec is now much more advanced scientifically; but in fact, the globalized readers might find relief from their mechanical existence when they feel the serenity of nature in the pages of this book. For the author and his contemporaries the then Quebec might have been a "savage country" which many offered many ordeals to those who wanted to earn a living around it. But the readers of the age of internet and multimedia would find the desolate rural background of the novel much soothing and pleasant. The novel also depicts the lives of farmers in that region and the righteous life of people in general symbolized by the church and the priest.
Marie Chapdelaine has an interesting sub-title, A Tale of the Lake St. John Country. The novel has a somewhat grim setting. There are romance elements as well as realism in Maria Chapdelaine in which, a young lady who is living in the Lake Saint John region roughly around 1910 has numerous boyfriends. One of the boyfriends to Maria called Francois, tries to persuade her to marry him and move to the U.S.! The twenty-first century reader would pity what happened to Francois although the original readers of the book might have found his desire to become rich undesirable. His habit of roaming alone in the dead of winter might have looked absurd to the then reader where as now this adventurousness would be appreciated. Maria turns out to be the Holy Mother of Quebec, a symbol of the divine and of mother Nature with her calm and serenity. She epitomizes the utopian ideology of French-Canadian Catholicism.
Since there is a gap of sixty-five years between Marie Chapdelaine and The Hockey Sweater, there should be some change reflecting the changing time. In1960there was a change in the power ratio in Quebec. Jean Lesage led the Liberal Party and the new government and attempted to modernize the social and educational system. This marked the beginning of what is known as Quiet Revolution (1960-1966), during which some writers attained glory for their work of fiction mostly writing about Quebec's independence from Canada leading to the replacement of the term French Canadian by the French word Quebequois . There was a major shift in the themes of Quebec literature inthe1970s.There was a shift from the political to the private-the individual, the couple, the family. However, some historical novels based on the nationalistic themes continued to be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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