Louis Hémon's Intertextual Use of "Pêcheur d'Islande" in "Maria Chapdelaine": Making a Novel Set in Canada Speak about Problems in Pre-World War One France.

Publication Title

Journal of Canadian Studies

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Document Type



Louis Hémon, "Pêcheur d'Islande", "Maria Chapdelaine", Canada, France, Pre-World War I


French and Francophone Language and Literature | Modern Languages


This essay demonstrates that, in developing the plot outline and male protagonist of his last novel, Maria Chapdelaine (1914), Louis Hémon repeatedly evoked Pierre Loti's then-popular narrative about Breton fishermen and their community, Pêcheur d'Islande (1886). A Breton himself, Hémon seems to have evoked Loti’s male protagonist, Yann Gaos, repeatedly in presenting his own, François Paradis, because such intertextualization allowed him to deal in a new way with the question of a perceived decline of masculinity, an issue that he had treated in several of his previous narratives and that was occupying Western European thought at the time. Such intertextualization also allowed him to address an issue that had been of personal significance to him since his adolescence: the importance of finding a way to be free of the constraints that he believed modern society was trying to impose on men.