Date of Award

5-2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Language

French

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Modern Languages & Classics

Advisor

Raymond Pelletier

Second Committee Member

Cathleen Bauschatz

Third Committee Member

Kathryn Slott

Abstract

The main objective of this thesis is to demonstrate the fundamental importance of the Carte de Tendre of Mlle de Scudéry in the works of Jacques Poulin. Distinct from previous studies, this analysis is based on the premise that Poulin has made a unique contribution to Quebec literature with his novel of tenderness which recalls the celebrated map in Clélie, Histoire Romaine. Where Scudéry envisages land, air and sea routes to Tendre, Poulin likewise evokes the themes of travel and tenderness. These two themes are intertwined since travel, for the poulinian hero, serves as a pretext for rediscovering his identity and better understanding both himself and others. Poulin finishes his characters maritime charts and road maps to help them establish bonds of friendship in their journey to Tendre. This study comprises five distinct yet interrelated chapters. After a review of the historical background of the Carte de Tendre, the first chapter brings to light the importance, according to Scudéry, of tenderness in human relationships and the routes that lead to tender amity. In similar fashion, Jacques Poulin creates a universe filled with sensitivity in which he explores the relationships between men and women. In chapter 2 Poulin's novels of apprenticeship, his first three works, are analyzed. In Mon chevalpour un royaume almost all of the themes Poulin will later treat are present, especially that of the protagonist's protective shell. This shell will prevent him from reaching out to others and from establishing relationships with them. His second novel, Jimmy, examines the childhood of the eleven year old narrator and his need for tenderness. Jimmy fails to break through his shell to communicate with unresponsive parents. In Le cœur de la baleine bleue Poulin clarifies the search for tenderness in describing Noel's journey toward his inner pole, his soul. The author insists upon travel as a metaphor for the quest for tenderness. Chapter 3 highlights the various routes which lead to Tendre and the failure of the poulinian hero to reach his destination. The Formula 1 racetrack in Faites de beaux rêves symbolizes the road to nowhere which leaves the protagonist at an impasse in his journey. This track prefigures the circuit the hero makes in La tournée d'automne, a voyage which finally leads to Tendre. In Les grandes marées the protagonist, Teddy Bear, unable to establish a rapport with the other islanders, chooses to follow the current of the St. Lawrence River which leads him to his death. Thus the land and water routes in these narratives do not guide the traveler to Tendre. The fourth chapter is concerned with two pivotal novels in the quest for Tendre. The hero of Volkswagen blues follows the Oregon Trail in order to discover human wannth yet at the end of the journey finds himself isolated and silent. It is not until Le vieux chagrin that the poulinian protagonist succeeds in crossing the border into the land of Tendre by establishing a loving relationship with a young girl he ultimately adopts. The last chapter demonstrates the fulfillment of the quest for tenderness undertaken in the preceding novels. The hero of La tournée d'automne makes use of three routes, two by land and one by water, to enter the kingdom of Tendre. The road map to the human heart, introduced by Scudéry and rediscovered by Jacques Poulin, leads to a peaceable kingdom where tender amity reigns.

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