Roch Carrier Emile J. Talbot - Essay

Emile J. Talbot

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The point of view in Roch Carrier's brilliant sixth novel [Il n'y a pas de pays sans grand-père] is that of Vieux-Thomas, once a vigorous man, now in his seventies and restricted to a rocking chair by his own family. Refused all freedom in his own house, he is left to musing about his past. However poignant Vieux-Thomas's situation may be, it soon becomes clear that this is not only a perceptive novel about the pain of old age, but that it carries a powerful political message as well. For the rocking chair which Vieux-Thomas has built himself and on which he has carved fleurs-de-lis is, by its back-and-forth movement which never goes anywhere, clearly emblematic of Québec, just as Vieux-Thomas's situation is not without analogy to that of the Québécois people, who do not consider themselves free in the very land which they have built. (p. 249)

There is no sentimentality or heavy-handedness in this truly moving narrative, but Carrier's discreet sympathy for Vieux-Thomas ennobles this aging man, who in a surge of generosity commits the last free act of his life. (p. 250)

Emile J. Talbot, in World Literature Today (copyright 1978 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 52, No. 2, Spring, 1978.