TRANSFORMING THE WILDERNESS INTO GOD’S CREATION: JOHN JAMES AUDUBON IN A CANADIAN SPACE
Keywords: wilderness, scientific explorations, Genesis, Canadian literature, ecocriticism
AbstractThis article deals with the kind of knowledge historically imposed upon the wilderness of the New World, with the threat that nonverbal reality poses for the human mind, and with the taxonomic fever that took over Natural Science in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I will look at these issues through two texts which cover the expedition of John James Audubon to Labrador (Canada) in the summer of 1833: one of them is a biographical document, Audubon and His Journals (1897), the other is a fictional work, the novel Creation (2002) written by Katherine Govier. I will draw from Audubon’s Journals and from Govier’s novel in order to discuss why Labrador was envisaged by both artists as challenging the ingrained human duty to draw lines and to separate one form of life from another. The uncharted territory of Labrador baffles Audubon’s usual power to name and to draw, and takes the reader back to the myth of creation, to Genesis, where it is clearly established that nothing really exists without the confirmation of language.
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