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Title:Images of happiness in the novels of Jacques Godbout
Author(s):Daniell, Steven James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Talbot, Emile J.
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Literature, Canadian (English)
Abstract:The image of happiness pervades most of Jacques Godbout's novels. While it is not as pronounced as other themes and images, happiness does serve as an indicator of the protagonist's progress away from his initial state of malaise.
The concept of bonheur does not fit one specific definition. Since no textual evidence suggests that the definition is rooted in philosophical or religious traditions, it is best to look at the sources and forms of happiness in Godbout.
It is possible to identify four pursuits that repeatedly lead to happiness in Godbout. The pursuit of the Anglo-American dream, through media or travel, is the most accessible to the protagonist. This activity propels him out of his malaise towards a happiness of relief that lasts until he realizes that he cannot belong to English-speaking society.
Occasionally, political involvement is the result of the loss of the Anglo-American dream, but whatever its source, such uninvolvement is invariably antiestablishment. Happiness from political involvement derives from the sense of purpose inherent in activism. Since happiness is related closely to the cause, it ends abruptly as the protagonist's participation ends.
An introspective isolation sometimes follows an encounter with death. Though this isolation is not itself a source of happiness, it helps the protagonist readjust his outlook on life. This new outlook, hope tempered with realism, assures the reader that the protagonist will not return to his malaise.
The point of interest in the romantic pursuit is whether one partner of the relationship is controlling the other. If such is the case, then happiness is bound to disintegrate with the romance before the reader's eyes. If not, then the couple may still be together at the end of the novel.
Happiness is not merely an incidental result of other activities in Godbout. Once the protagonist has experienced happiness, it becomes part of his motivation for continuing his progress away from his initial malaise. Even the loss of happiness can provoke enough anger to keep the protagonist active.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Daniell, Steven James
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210780
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210780

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