The Author and his Devises
Douglas Glover is a known Canadian author of various fiction works that has capture readers of different nationalities, belief and preferences. While there were many other works of Glover such as notes Home from a Prodigal Son, The Enamored Knight, and novels such as The Life and Times of Captain N and 16 Categories of Desire , Elle, a novel based on a true or rather historic figure, Marguerite de Roberval, on her way to discovering Canada with her uncle, Jean-François de la Rocque de Roberval. In this novel, he seemed to present Canada is a satiric language with explicit and implicit intentions of ridiculing religion, faith and aboriginals. It described the moments of first contact and the discovery of Canada by the European adventurers. These were during the times of Jacques Cartier’s last and rather tragic attempt to colonize Canada. This first contact was described in ways in what did Canada meant to European adventurers and what did Europeans meant to the country’s original habitants and the clash between these two groups; neither of them recognized each other as human. Nevertheless, he associated religion, sex, and revenge in building an image of this newly discovered country or the “New World.” While excerpts of the story are loosely based on facts, the author’s language of conviction has somehow made the story more vivid and looks like more true to life. The author practiced his freedom of expression by choosing to portray such part of history through a work of fiction.
In the course of the story, he also used a great deal of latitude as a means to portray Canada. This is to describe the geographical location of the newly discovered country and to create a glimpse of seasonal experiences of the characters such as winter in portrayal of sadness and will for revenge. Moreover, use of latitude seemed to be used to express distance from the European origins of the characters. This latitudinal distance implicates cultural, traditional and civil differences. This further implies the width of territorial expansion attempts of Europe in the past and may be not so many years before modern times. For me, as a reader of the novel, these instruments of literature used by the author affected my understanding of colonization, first contact, faith and religion as associated with lust, sex and may be, love. With the claim that the novel was based on facts, it has some effect for me to assume many events in the story to be true. In some sense I tend to forget it being a fiction and not a direct narration of history (perhaps except Elle turning literally or otherwise into a bear). Nonetheless, this also gave me some sense of contempt to inhumane actions on both parties regardless of which side I may choose to give sympathy. If this will be the only book describing the first contact of Canada and its history, I will be facing realizations of the violent, lustful, and inhumane parts of history or the truths that perhaps will never be mentioned on ordinary history books.
I believe then, that the bigger purpose of the novel is to portray themes not mentioned in the usual history books. Hypocrisy and modesty aside, we can really assume that such themes like sex, violence, lust and other worldly human nature are inclusive of our history. While other critics of Glover say that he did not include human nature to sympathize with in his novel Elle, I believe that these themes can be considered not less than parts of our character and human nature regardless of civilization, religion and nationality. Moreover, this is also to portray colonization not simply as expansion of territory. It means penetration in an existing culture or rather an intentional or unintentional exchange of culture between the two parties: the colony and colonizers.
Other inspirations in the story may be the apparent expansion of trade and prosperity in the ancient times. Colonization and...