BOOK REVIEWS: LITERATURE
AUBERT DE GASPE FILS, PHILIPPE. L'lnfluence d'un livre,
r o m n historique.
Introduction et notes par And& %n6cal.
Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 1984. Pp. 214.
Thanks to Professor Andre %n6cal and Hurtubise HMH's
series "Cahiers du Qukbcc, Collection Textes et Documents
litt6raires," the original 1837 edition of L'lnfluence d'un livre,
the first French-Canadian novel, is now available outside
archives and rare book rooms. Since 1864, the only version
readily accessible was Abbe Casgrain's 1864 edition published
under the title Le Chercheur de trisors, ou L'lnfluence d'un
lime. As %n6cal demonstrates in his introduction and notes,
Casgrain took it upon himself to correct, polish, and censure the
He not only changed spelling, grammar,
punctuation, and stylistic errors, but also eliminated quotations
and allusions to authors on the Catholic Church's Index and
suppressed passages that offended his austere sense of morality.
Snecal's edition includes "Notes et Variantes de I'kdition Casgrain" so that the reader may compare the altered text to the
This new critical edition is also a well-documented case
study of Qu6bec's first novel. It includes biographical and bibliographical materials, reproductions of portraits and illustrations
from the early nineteenth century, and an excellent introduction. S6n6cal's analysis of the novel touches upon all of the
issues of genre, narration, structure, intentionality, authorship,
sourccs, and influences that have been raised by literary critics
and historians since 1837. It studies L'lnfluence d'un livre in the
idiom of 1980s criticism in a way that places the novel in its own
nineteenth-century context. SCln6cal reads the book as an adventure tale heavily influenced by the Gothic and melodramatic
elements of French and English Romanticism. He also discusses
Aubcrt de Gas+ fils' debt to local folklore and oral traditions.
Despite the author's pretentions, L'lnfluence d'un lime is not an
historical novel or a novel of French-Canadian manners. Its