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Two Solitude

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Two Solitudes is far from being a great work of fiction--it can be hokey, preachy, heavy-handed, trite, and dated--but it is both an entertaining human story and a knowing political novel, only slightly marred by MacLennan's over-idealistic nationalism. The Canada that MacLennan presents, a country in which a citizen is either French-Canadian or English-Canadian (or a rare hybrid) never really existed, but the political climate prompted by this illusion is still with us. MacLennan's novel is one of the most sympathetic (and readable) literary chronicles of the tensions and misunderstandings that gave birth to modern Quebec. --Jack Illingworth

“Two solitudes”, which was written by Hugh McLennan at 1945, was his most famous novel. The Author, Hugh MacLennan was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, 1907. There are about seven novels, travel books and uncountable essays that mediate between the European cultural heritage and American vigor and idealism. “Among his many honors, he won five Governor Generals Awards.” And finally, Hugh MacLennan died in Montreal in 1990.
It was a literary allegory for English and French Canadian from 1917 to 1939. The author divided this novel into 4 parts. “It is set during World War I, and a cast of “archetype” characters relay the story, being representations of French Canadians or Catholics or Businessman during this time period.” The novel’s plot was focus on the life of the fictional character named Paul Tallard, who is struggling between the differences of his English and French Canadian identities. According to the analysis that I found on the Internet, someone said that “There is only one sentence in the whole novel containing this expression: Two solitudes in the infinite waste of loneliness under the sun.” The author separates the chapters by timeline, which is chronicle form to indicate the truthfulness of Canadian history to show the international situation in Europe.
The story focus on two totally different places, one is the small village of Saint-Mar, and the other one is way bigger, which is the bustling city of Montreal. The struggle happened between the French side and English side. The French side, where people like Father Beaubien (the priest of Saint-Marc) don’t want their traditions been taken away. On the other hand, the English side, where people like Huntley McQueen, who is an English businessman, wants to turn the whole farmland into industry. Besides, Athanese Tallard is the one who’s the middleman was struggled too. It’s impossible not to feel for French heritage, but he also has English views on development and was married to a woman who’s “Anglophone”. According to the book, “Unless they developed their own resources they would soon have none lift to develop.” And this is not great news for Athanese Tallard, who is a member of parliament.
I personally think that “Two Solitudes” is an enjoyable story. It shows appeals the lifestyle and situation during World War I. It describes the relationship between people, and how the character, Paul Tallard struggling with himself. In the end, invokes national prides. Athanese’s choice to cut himself off from his religion only turns him into an outcast from both cultures. I have to admit that the ending could have been a bit happier for the main character. The reason why the author named this book “Two Solitudes” is to obtain and indicate his own aim. Take from a letter of Rainer Marie Rilke’s, it was a definition of love: “love consists of this, that two solitudes protect, and touch, and greet each other.” If French and English in Canada could manage this kind of respectful love, then perhaps the various nationalisms in Europe that had led to was could be transformed into peaceful coexistence.” Everything had two sides; the title contains two different meanings. For example, just like the relationship between Protestant and Catholic. The characters are shown as realistic individuals, not symbols of a certain group of people. These are common conflicts that weave in and out of the story, instead of preaching people. In the story, each character got their special thing, strong views and struggles. Take an example from this novel, while Athanese is split between partnering with McQueen in order to build a factory and maintain his French religion and identity. Moreover, another example is that when John Yardley moved into Saint-Marc, who is an Anglophone, which started up a lot of struggles and conflicts.
The fact is that “Two Solitudes” is a book that did not become like a documentary or newspaper article, which is a good thing. The author, MacLennan paid more tension on the feelings and thoughts of the social issue of Quebec during World War one and two, instead of explaining the whole complicated history of English and French in Canada. Also, he choose to write this book without communicating with the people who read it, he give the readers a chance to decide which culture is right or wrong.

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[ 1 ]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Solitudes_(novel)
[ 2 ]. http://www.ucalgary.ca/lib-old/SpecColl/maclenbioc.htm

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