Quebec Studies

Tragic and Humanistic Visions of the Future: The Fictional World of Gabrielle Roy

Quebec Studies (1983), 1, (1), 234–245.

Abstract

Tragic and Humanistic Visions of the Future: The Fictional World of Gabrielle Roy Paula Gilbert Lewis In her beautiful essay devoted to the 1967 Montreal World’s Fair, Gabrielle Roy writes of the influence upon her of SaintExupkry from whose novel, Terre des hommes, this universal exhibition drew its title and its humanistic ideology. She describes this poet-pilot, a part of humanity, as contemplating during the mysterious night “les fragiles lumikres de la terre” and as searching for and discovering “en elles des raisons d’espkrer.” I t is these words, “fragiles lumikres de la terre,” that have been chosen by Frangois Ricard as the title of a recent compilation of Roy’s earlier writings, for, as Roy herself states, they constitute a “fil d’Ariane” throughout her works and thus underscore her own outlook “A la fois tremblant et espkrant.” In 1980 the author again reiterated that, both in her fiction and reality, there are always lights, the dawn, and the possibility of recommencement for everyone, but that these lights are inevitably fragile and, even as in Cet Etd qui chantait, temporary. What is important, however, is that, as for Alexandre Chenevert and Lac Vert, these rays of hope exist.’ What these words essentially emphasize is the constant duality between a tragic realism and a humanistic idealism that is present in every aspect of the Royan fictional universe, as well as in her vision of and hopes for humanity and the world. Marc Gagnk applies such a distinction to Roy’s various works, to her essays as opposed to her fiction. He sees, especially, an attitude of faith in God, progress, and humanity throughout her essays and articles of journalism, while in her works of fiction, he distinguishes primarily “l’observatrice impitoyable d’une certaine sociktk mais pitoyable aux hommes qui la composent. ’’ Frangois Ricard, in his analysis of Cet Etk qui chantait, states that “innocence et bonheur reposent ici sur un fond de dktresse.” I t

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Lewis, Paula