D'Iberville, Chaussegros de Léry, the Laterrières and Tocqueville: Quebec through the Prism of Absolutism, the Enlightenment and Romanticism

by Donovan, Virginia R.

Abstract (Summary)
Although Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry, Pierre de Sales Laterrière, Pierre-Jean de Sales Laterrière, and Alexis de Tocqueville were all observers of Canada, their views of Quebec differ greatly one from another because they were from different generations. D’Iberville (1661 – 1706), Quebec’s first national hero, lived during the age of classicism, the reign of Louis XIV and the absolute monarchy. He provides a politico-military perspective of Quebec. Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry (1682 – 1751), Quebec’s chief military engineer and architect, lived and worked in Quebec during a time of transition between the absolute monarchy and the Enlightenment. He provides an esthetic perspective of Quebec. Pierre de Sales Laterrière [1743?(47) – 1815], Quebec’s first memorialist, landed on the shores of the St. Lawrence in 1766 when the Enlightenment was in full bloom. He provides a scientific/literary perspective of Quebec. His son, Pierre-Jean de Sales Laterrière (1789 – 1834), wrote the first treatise that defended French Canadians under British control and domination. His life also encompassed the Romantic Movement in all its glory. He provides a politico-sociological perspective of Quebec. Finally, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859) traveled through Quebec in 1831. Tocqueville’s view of Quebec was shaped by Romanticism, as well as by the political turmoil which was occurring in his native France. He provides a socio-political perspective of Quebec. Each individual featured in this dissertation was an initiator of or a principle contributor to major discourses in Quebec’s imaginary. This dissertation evaluates the perspectives of these writers through a careful analysis of selected major writings about Quebec. Included are historical documents that were not originally intended to be literature according to the classic definition of the term. Yet these documents bear the mark of the conceptual framework in which they were written, even as does the literature of a given era. This demonstrates that these historical documents provide us with different views of Quebec which mirror not only these individuals’ life experiences, but which also reflect their participation in the dominant literary, philosophical or historical movements in existence at the time that they lived: Absolutism, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:canada quebec history literature absolutism enlightenment romanticism


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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