Voyage to Vendee


89 pages
ISBN 0-920428-96-7





Translated by David Homel
Reviewed by Cam Tolton

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


Quebec poet Robert Marteau first published his long prose poem, Voyage en Vendée, at a small press in Poitiers in 1985. The present bilingual edition (French and English on opposite pages) is, therefore, the first Canadian publication of the work in either language. The poem consists of one densely written paragraph 39 pages long. Translator David Homel’s English version expresses as lucidly as possible — often at the expense of literalness — the poet’s stream-of-consciousness contemplations. One might argue, though, that this is much less a voyage to Vendée than a Voyage in the Vendée (and in the poet’s mind). Glimpses of the Vendée countryside and its inhabitants inspire the poet to broaden and deepen thoughts, and carry him into a world of myth and art and religion. Marteau recognized in his original that some of the allusions required clarification in footnotes, which Homel obligingly translates as well. A native of France and now a Montrealer, Robert Marteau might well be asked if his return to the Vendée is not a significant expression of nostalgia or homesickness. But whatever his answer, his poem is even more a demonstration, on a timeless and borderless level, of the simultaneously earthy and erudite perception of its author.



Marteau, Robert, “Voyage to Vendee,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,