Memorializing an Imagined Past: Evangeline and the Acadian Deportation

Auteur / Author: 
Jane MOSS (Canadian Studies, Duke University, États-Unis)
Jeudi 25 Août 2011 - 10:15
14-2. Literary Monuments


One of the great ironies of Acadian history is that the collective tragedy of the 1755-58 Deportation was made known to the world by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Published in 1847, the best-selling long poem Evangeline relates the tragic story of two young Acadian lovers separated on their wedding day and exiled to different places. Faithful to her Acadian heritage and her lost fiancé Gabriel Lajeunesse, Evangeline Bellefontaine wanders all over America before finding her beloved on his deathbed in Philadelphia. Translated into many languages, dramatized on stage and screen, Evangeline became the story of the Acadian dispersal despite the fact that it was invented by an American poet who had never visited either old Acadie in Nova Scotia or New Acadia in Louisiana. Ironically, Acadians in the Canadian Maritimes and Cadiens (Cajuns) in Louisiana adopted the poetic fiction of Evangeline and Gabriel and constructed monuments and tourist sites (lieux de fausse mémoire), memorializing an imagined past at Grand Pré, NS and St. Martinville, LA. This paper will examine the construction of monuments and more contemporary attempts to deconstruct the mythical past invented by Longfellow.