The Influence of a Book : An English Translation of Philippe-Ignace-Francois Aubert de Gaspé's L'Influence d'un livre
Lahey, Patrick E.
The Author Philippe-Ignace-Francois Aubert de Gaspe was born in Quebec City on April 8, 1814, the second child and eldest son of Philippe-Joseph and Suzanne (Allison) Aubert de Gaspe, both of whom were descendents of several of Canada's oldest and most distinguished aristocratic families. Aubert de Gaspe, Senior (1786-1871), with whom his son is frequently confused, was, in his early adult life, an influential solicitor, military officer, and man of affairs. He later became the sixth and last Seigneur of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, the fifth of the Aubert de Gaspe line. The elder Aubert de Gaspe eventually proved to be a more accomplished author than his son; his historical novel, Les Anciens Canadiens (1863), and his autobiographical Memoires (1866) received international acclaim and continue to be regarded as two of the major prose works of nineteenth century Canadian literature in French. The father's literary career, however, did not begin until over twenty years after his son's death. In 1816, Aubert de Gaspe, Senior was appointed Sheriff of Quebec, an elevation which eventually brought him to financial ruin. In November 1822, unable to render monies owed to the Crown, he was relieved of the position, and in February of the following year, he was forced to retire, destitute, to the ancestral home at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, where he spent the next sixteen years awaiting the pleasure of his creditors. There he devoted himself to reflection, reading, and the education of his seven (eventually thirteen) children.