Narratology and Text: Subjectivity and Identity in the New France and Québécois Literature

Article excerpt

Paul Perron, Narratology and Text: Subjectivity and Identity in the New France and Québécois Literature (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), pp. xvii + 338. $60.00. £40.00. ISBN 0-8020-3688-0.

Paul Perron has divided this book into three sections; an introductory section on the theory of narratology, which concentrates particularly on the work of A.J. Greimas; section two which focuses on the accounts of Jacques Cartier and the Jesuits of their experiences in New France; section three which analyses six novels (Les Anciens Canadiens, La Terre paternelle, Maria Chapdelaine, La Scouine, Bonheur d'occasion and Agaguk). Section one is very theoretical and impenetrable to anyone who is not a devotee of the theories of narratology. Section two brings out the preconceptions which Cartier brought to the New World and then looks at the way in which the Jesuits set out to influence their audience in France with the description of their heroism under unimaginable torture. Surprisingly the author makes no reference to the recent work of Guy Laflèche on the Jesuits, although he does mention his earlier publications in the bibliography. Part three looks at the different ways the six authors handle the concepts of space, belonging and control, as their leading characters develop from selfish individualism to an understanding of the collectivity. The chapters on Agaguk and La Terre paternelle are particularly successful. …