Quebec Studies

Book Reviews: Literature

Quebec Studies (1986), 4, (1), 206–211.


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 original text. 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 original. 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

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