This poignant novel, originally published in French in 1935, is a lyrical evocation of the beauty, the harshness, and the tragedy of pioneering life. Based on the author's own experience of homesteading in northern Alberta at the beginning of the twentieth century, the novel tells the story of a young couple from France, who come to the West filled with naïve optimism and romantic hope. Like Adam and Eve they end up being driven from their garden of paradise into a world of death and defeat. Georges Bugnet is a writer for whom nature is a mystical wonder filled with immense grandeur and equally immense destruction. He is conscious of humanity's need for humility in the face of that power.
Georges-Charles-Jules Bugnet (1879-1981) was a Canadian and French writer, journalist and horticulturist. He is one of the major French writers of Western Canada. During a life which spanned 101 years he published four novels in addition to short stories, essays and poems. He was born in France in 1879 at Chalon-sur-Saône, Burgandy, and was educated at the Université du Dijon and the Sorbonne. In 1904, at the age of 25, he came to Canada with his young wife, Julia. In 1905 after working in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, where their first son, Charles, was born they moved to St. Albert, Alberta. In March 1906 they took up their homestead near Lac Majeau, 80 km northwest of Edmonton, in an area later named Rich Valley. Bugnet is best known for his novel, La Forêt (935) trans. The Forest (1976). This is one of the earliest examples of realism in Canadian literature and reflects Bugnet’s fascination with living in the forest and its affects on human behaviour. When he published his first two novels, Les Lys de sang (1922) and Nipsya (1924) he used the pen-name, Henri Doutremont.