Edited by Patrice J. Proulx
History, Culture, and Politics
DE FINNEY, JAMES, HÃ‰LÃˆNE DESTREMPES, et JEAN MORENCY, Ã©ds. L'Acadie des origines. Sudbury: Prise de parole, 2011.
Pp.170. ISBN 9782894232552.
HODSON, CHRISTOPHER. The Acadian Diaspora: An EighteenthCentury History. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. Pp. 260. ISBN 9780199739776.
We are still trying to unravel the elusive Acadian past, and even more
importantly, to understand who the Acadians have become today. Writers
have addressed various facets of this question from very early times, but
many of them, even those with the best of intentions, often tended toward
convenient stereotypes and exaggerated images which had very little to do
with la rÃ©alitÃ© acadienne. We understand today that Acadians form the heart
and soul of a fascinating past, one defined in part by the complex set of
challenges that they had to overcome from the time they first arrived as setÂ
tlers over 400 years ago. A lesser people would not have survived, but
somehow the Acadians endured, refusing to be relegated to a poignant
footnote in a revised History of the World. They not only survived, they
grew and evolved, often exploiting a new avenue, unforeseen and perverse,
one that they rarely chose or controlled themselves. In the end, they perÂ
sisted and adapted unselfconsciously, purveyors of a new and transformed
Acadian identity, one that continues to grow in the twenty-first century.
These two very different books are welcome and timely additions to
the literature which will allow us to push the envelope just a little further
on this issue. Ironically, this reviewer really only discovered the world of
Acadians in the 1970s, while at graduate school in Orono, Maine â€” a state
with 15% of its population boasting Acadian roots and another 15% hailing
originally from QuÃ©bec. Since that time, and in spite of having served as
DÃ©lÃ©guÃ© du QuÃ©bec en Louisiane, participating in academic exchanges with
Acadians, maintaining close contact with the Cajun community for over
thirty years, and even sharing a conjugal roof with an Acadienne for decÂ
ades, I find that Acadian reality remains a challenge to define. The arrival
of these review books was exciting, perhaps a chance to open new doors, to
confirm that there continues to be a dynamic and vibrant francophone life
outside of QuÃ©bec.
L'Acadie des origines is the brainchild of three professors at the UniverÂ
sity of Moncton, who have edited this great little book of essays. In ten
short and pithy chapters, the authors have addressed a number of the most
important themes affecting Acadians, both today and in the past. The reÂ
sult is a much clearer understanding of the many mythical forces that con-