“Twilight of the Yellowstone” by Louis Hamelin: the amazing adventure of Audubon

«Les crépuscules de la Yellowstone» de Louis Hamelin: l’incroyable aventure d’Audubon

Novel hypnotic, involving the reader in a fascinating epic in the heart of grandiose landscapes, The twilight of the Yellowstone offers a rare foray into the world of the naturalist John James Audubon while he was going to explore the american West in the 1800s. Louis Hamelin, with his incredible talent, relive these years of discoveries, where the naturalist allied to the coureurs de bois of French-canadian background.

In April 1843, on the digue of Saint-Louis, Missouri, the naturalist John James Audubon embarked for what would be his last expedition. His goal : to capture the largest number of specimens to immortalize them in a book on which he is working. An expedition high in color, led by Étienne Provost, a legendary figure of the time.

This story has fascinated Louis Hamelin. “Initially, I wanted to do a series of three books quite short on three great naturalists : Audubon, Henry David Thoreau and Grey Owl, the famous “fake” indian, who was also a naturalist and speaker, known worldwide on the nature. He stayed in Quebec, Cabano, on a small lake beaver”, reveal it in an interview.

Twilight of the Yellowstone
Louis Hamelin
Editions du Boréal,
376 pages.”>

Twilight of the Yellowstone
Louis Hamelin
Editions du Boréal,
376 pages.

Louis Hamelin began with Audubon. “I was attracted by its report with a guide and trapper, French-canadian, the famous Étienne Provost, who was active in the Rocky mountains. I have taken off in this story and I found myself in a kind of epic of the Wild West.”

He was captivated by this story… with good reason. “There are so many things in there, in addition to my love that is there since a long time for the wild nature, the birds. It is really the conquest of the West that we see unfold in the watermark. The wagon trains of pioneers sweep west of the Mississippi river; the massacre of the bison is already in progress.”

Character of fiction

Audubon is a true beautiful character of fiction, he adds. “It is a case of a man of wood and romantic at the same time, it is a civilized view sometimes a little nose on the Indians. It is a character quite ambivalent, including in relation to hunting. It no longer exists today, this kind of report, but at the time, it was both a naturalist, a conservationist, and a hunter rabid. A beautiful paradox.”

What we see happen in the West, he said, this is wild capitalism. “The buffalo is slaughtered for its skin. At the time, and people bought it as a hedge to sleep. My grandfather had a cover in the skin of a bison, which he called a buffalo.”

Traces French

His novel highlights the traces of the French in America. We met Etienne Provost, and Antoine Robidoux ; the city of St. Louis was predominantly French at that time. “The whole fur industry, based in Saint-Louis, essaimait to the Rocky mountains, to the North, to Mexico and to the Pacific ; and on this vast territory, Etienne Provost was considered one of the best, if not the best runner of the wood of all the Rockies. People respected a lot.”

Audubon became an icon in the United States : parks, roads, a significant conservation society bear his name. “Obviously, this is one of their national myths, the conquest of the West. Then, they have always cultivated the memory of the coureurs des bois famous ones, like Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett,” notes the author.

It is fascinating to see that Etienne Provost, at the beginning of the 19th century, with travellers and will regain one of his uncles in St. Louis. “It’s part of a territory and of an imaginary French-canadian. The French have been strong in America – it has not always been a small minority on the defensive.”

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