Volkswagen Blues Background

Volkswagen Blues Background

The novel Volkswagen Blues is a novel that was written by Jacques Poulin. It was originally published in French in 1984, and was translated into English in 1988. The novel was well acclaimed, being nominated for the Governor General's Award for French-language fiction in 1984 and being one of the selected novels in the 2005 edition of Canada Reads.

In the style of the Beat Generation, Volkswagen Blues is a road novel, mimicking the famous style of Jack Kerouac. Poulin starts off the novel by introducing his protagonist with the pseudonym Jack Waterman, who is suffering from writer’s block. He finds an old postcard and he begins a journey to find his brother, who has been long lost. At the beginning, while he is traveling, he picks up a hitchhiker and a cat named Chop Suey. The hitchhiker is nicknamed “La Grande Sauterelle” because she has really long legs that look like a grasshopper.

As the group travels along in Jack’s Volkswagen Minibus, which becomes a character in itself over the course of the story, they pass through many big cities in Canada and the American West. They not only travel over the land but also explore the history of how Europeans interacted with the natives that lived in each of the regions. The don’t just drive around; Jack and La Grande Sauterelle discuss literature, American expansion, and how the discovery of the Natives was actually an invasion and not a discovery. Volkswagen Blues is another novel that narrates a journey that can be described as a “lost paradise,” full of disillusionment and self-discovery, that turns into an allegory for the history of how the French explored North America.

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