Quebec Studies

La Rivière Sans Repos: Gabrielle Roy's "Spectacular" Text

Quebec Studies (1984), 2, (1), 105–117.

Abstract

LA RIVIÈRE SANS REPOS: GABRIELLE "SPECTACULAR" TEXT ROY'S Ellen R. Babby Gabrielle Roy's role in the development of the Québec novel is undisputed. Indeed, her renowned text, Bonheur d'occasion, routinely appears on the syllabus of every introductory course in Québec literature, and its fine craftsmanship has contributed significantly to the scholarly respect and recognition that the Québec novel has gained. The popularity of this text, however, has overshadowed Roy's other works, many of which surpass Bonheur d'occasion stylistically and narratologically. One such text is La Rivière sans repos. The language of this text is simple, but underlying this facade is an intricate network of plots. This hybrid text is composed of three novellas followed by a novel which bears the name of the volume's title. The unifying strand is clearly visible: all of these stories, which take place in northern Québec, deal with the problem of cultural discordance between white and Inuit societies. This clash has been well-documented and thus will not be detailed here. A close reading of these works reveals another critical unifying structure which I shall refer to as the "spectacular." Its French equivalent, spectaculaire, with its connotations of the spectacle, the site of representation, site of the play of reality and fiction, and spectacle, something which is viewed, ("le fait de voir," Dictionnaire Robert), reveals the highly charged nature of this word. By isolating the elements of the spectacular in both the short stories and the novel of La Rivière sans repos, I hope to contribute to the appreciation of this text. 1 2 3 "Les Nouvelles esquimaudes" is the subtitle which introduces the three short stories, "Les Satellites," "Le Téléphone,"

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Babby, Ellen