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548 LETTERS IN CANAOA 1982 L'Heureux and Stephane-Albert Boulais. Bernard is the leader of the group, a cook, whose gift of the gab, in Perrault's eyes, establishes him in the tradition of the great oral poets in Perrault's other works (GrandLouis in the He aux Couldres trilogy, Hauris Lalancette from the Abitibi cycle, for example). On the other hand, Stephane-Albert is the novice hunter, a childhood friend of Bernard's, now in the teaching profession and a poetin the written tradition. In the conflict which develops between these two old friends, the open sentiment of the poet clashes with the verbal acrobatics of the story-teller who uses these games to keep such sentiment at arm's length, the better to win in the verbal duels which are but an extension of his passion for the hunt. The master of the oral culture is the embodiment of reserve; the master of the written culture is the embodiment of 'tendresse' which seeks to declare its solidarity by gestures of intimacy. Perhaps it is in Stephane-Albert that we can see a shadow of Perrault himself and his eternal quest for the true, autochthonous voice of a people. (OAVIO CLANOFIELO) Margaret MacDonell. The Emigrant Experience: Songs of Highland Emigrants in NDrth America University of Toronto Press. viii, 230. $27.50; $10.95 paper Margaret MacDonell, chairman of the Department of Celtic Studies at St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, has compiled a collection of Gaelic songs relating to emigrants leaving the Scottish Highlands for North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The songs are arranged according to the location of the writers - the Carolinas, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Manitoba and the North-West Territories - and are accompanied by notes telling what is known about the authors and the background. The original Gaelic verses have literal English translations on the facing pages. As the introduction explains, many of the songs reflect the history of the Highlands following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden when the destruction of Highland homes, execution of Jacobite supporters, and annexation of estates to the Crown led to the breakdown of the clan system. There are complaints about the increased rents, the introduction of sheep, and the poor treatment of tenants which forced thousands of Highlanders to emigrate: A plague on the landlords With their greed for money. They prefer flocks of sheep To their own armed hosts. (p 63) HUMANITIES 549 Combined with the factors making life in the Highlands increasingly difficult was the attraction of the New World which was enhanced by letters from friends who had emigrated earlier: ... if they are healthy, strong, progressive, before long in this country, as sure as there is a forest here, they will have sheep and cattle, food, clothing, and abundant comforts _.. If you come here from Cowal I am confident that you will have no regrets. (p 129) Less well received were the blandishments of emigration agents who exaggerated the advantages of the new land: A thousand liars, well rewarded, went about with books extolling the North West and the excellence of Manitoba. (p 153) A recurring theme is the sorrow of the emigrants on leaving home, coupled with idealized descriptions of life in Scotland: What a beautiful place it was, I with pasture for the herd ... ' The two most common themes are on the one hand complaints about the hardships of life in America - 'Much fatigue and agony I the people endure in this hopeless land' - and on the other praise of it for offering freedom and a chance to advance: Fair is the place I have here by the sea, when it comes time to till it with the plough. I shall make bread-land with horses and put the cows to graze; we shall not be in want in spring, I wager. (p 59) Particularly interesting are some arguments in song in which one emigrant condemns and another answers him, as in 'Donald's Testimony about Manitoba' followed by a 'Reply to Resentful Donald,' or in John MacDonald's 'Song of America. ' As the title indicates, these songs give a vivid picture of 'the emigrant experience,' and provide...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 548-550
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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