River Without End: A Logbook of the St. Lawrence


102 pages
ISBN 0-920428-94-0





Translated by David Homel
Reviewed by Cam Tolton

Cam Tolton is a professor of French and Cinema Studies at the University
of Toronto.


Although Robert Marteau was born in France (in 1925) and wrote poetry and fiction there until 1972, he has been publishing poetry and art criticism in his adopted Montreal since 1976. Since then, he has been unequivocally accepted as a Quebec writer. Consequently, it is somewhat surprising that, in 1986, Marteau’s poetic journal describing a year in the life of the Saint Lawrence River, Fleuve sans fin, was first published in France (Paris: Gallimard). David Homel’s English translation of this volume of prose poetry, curiously enough, omits the publishing data about the original French text. Aside from this bibliographical frustration, this little volume provides a satisfying record of the aesthetic and emotional impact of the changing seasons on a poet’s sensitivities. The diary entries begin on May 3, 1982, and end on April 30 a year later. But there is a certain imbalance: the earlier months receive more attention, and one even senses a touch of burnout in the later pages. Some of the most interesting entries are those which contain comparative allusions to nature in the poet’s native France, and references to the international painters and writes who occur to him in his contemplations. This book will appeal to lovers of the Saint Lawrence shores, of lyrical prose, and of philosophical meditation. In particular, it is the latest manifestation of the unresolved bi-continentalism of its gifted author.



Marteau, Robert, “River Without End: A Logbook of the St. Lawrence,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/34636.