Nicolas Perrot ou les Coureurs des bois sous la domination française
serialized novel, La Revue de Québec, 1889,
this edition established, presented and annotated by Rémi Ferland,
1996, Les Editions de la Huit, Sainte-Foy,
XI-173 p.; coll. no. 4; ISBN 2-921707-01-2
« All the traders present admired this young man who, without any hesitation, suggested a fight between his twenty-five men and one hundred and twenty Iroquois, under the command of chiefs like Black Cauldron and Flemish Bastard. They knew it wasn't just a boast or blind temerity, but rather the calm and thoughtful courage possessed by a man aware of his strengths and abilities. »
This is how Boucher de Boucherville, author of the famous Une de perdue deux de trouvées (one lost, two found), presents the hero of his last novel, Nicolas Perrot, the intrepid and diplomatic coureur des bois who served as mediator many times in the confused and stormy relations between the French and the indian nations during the period 1670 to 1680.
The novel tells of an expedition by Nicolas Perrot, nicknamed Colas (silent s), to the Up-country during the winter of 1669-1670. Even if a passage from the real Mémoire, written by Perrot, is cited at length and even if certain characters are historical, the adventure is totally fictitious : at the request of Montreal merchants, Colas will recover marchandise stolen by some Iroquois camped on Grand Manitoulin. He'll succeed in this exploit with the help of the Hurons, but also thanks to a wily military strategem and to a few uncommon artifices : canoes with sails, super-powerful gunpowder, projectiles linked by chains, ventriloquism, etc.
When the serial appeared in La Revue de Québec in 1889, the editors of the revue recommended that their readers « retain the pages of this serial [...] which is sure to generate poignant interest » because of the notoriety of its author and the historical information it contained. There is now another reason for the « poignant interest » : we don't know the end of the tale. Indeed, the revue abruptly ceased to appear in December 1889, leaving the readers of this « canadian first » in total suspense; and Boucher de Boucherville never gave any indication as to the denouement of his novel.
Nicolas Perrot, published in book form for the first time by LES ÉDITIONS DE LA HUIT, is accompanied by an interesting introduction and numerous and detailed notes. (available in French only)
Les Éditions de la Huit, 747, rue des Mélèzes, Sainte-Foy (Québec), G1X 3C8
phone: (418) 659-7715 FAX: (418) 659-7715
text by Remi Ferland, Editions de la Huit [translation: André Clément Perreault]