Anne around the World

Anne around the World: L.M. Montgomery and Her Classic

Jane Ledwell
Jean Mitchell
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Anne around the World
    Book Description:

    What makes Anne of Green Gables an international, time-honoured classic? International audiences have described reading L.M. Montgomery's most celebrated novel as an experience in enchantment. Balancing criticism and celebration, Jane Ledwell and Jean Mitchell bring together essays that consider the sources of the wonder that Montgomery's work inspires. The popular appeal of Montgomery's classic is undeniable, but the reasons for its worldwide resonance are less obvious. From a range of perspectives, the contributors to Anne around the World focus on the numerous themes the novel raises, showcasing why it has charmed readers across the globe - from Iran to Australia, and from Sweden to Japan. Essays consider issues of class, race, and colonial history, discuss Anne's place in children's literature, her passion for writing, and the ways in which L.M. Montgomery and her red-haired protagonist are celebrated by legions of fans. Featuring contributions from many international writers, Anne around the World traces the meaning and influence of a story that spread far from its place of origin on a small Canadian island to distant and culturally diverse places. Contributors include Yoshiko Akamatsu (Notre Dame Seishin University, Japan), Doreley Carolina Coll (University of Prince Edward Island), Brooke Collins-Gearing (School of Humanities and Social Science, New South Wales), Margaret Doody (Notre Dame University), Elizabeth R. Epperly (emeritus, University of Prince Edward Island), Barbara Carman Garner (Carleton University), Caroline E. Jones (Texas State University-San Marcos), Paul Keen (Carleton University), Jane Ledwell, Jennie MacDonald (PhD, University of Denver), Susan Meyer (Wellesley College), Jean Mitchell, Mary Henley Rubio (emeritus, University of Guelph), Gholamreza Sami (Sussex University), Wendy Shilton (University of Prince Edward Island), Cynthia Sugars (University of Ottawa), Tanfer Emin Tunc (Hacettepe University, Turkey), Åsa Warnqvist (Stockholm University, Sweden), Elizabeth Hillman Waterston (emeritus, University of Guelph), and Budge Wilson (author).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8858-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-24)

    More than a hundred years ago, a curious and often lonely young woman from the north shore of Prince Edward Island published her first novel, Anne of Green Gables. It became the first Canadian international best-seller and has now sold over fifty million copies and been translated into more than thirty languages and numerous media, including illustrations, silent film, film series, animated series, plays, musical plays, heritage sites, and Web sites. This book has powerfully influenced generations of readers and helped shape the identities not only of Montgomery’s readers around the world but also of her beloved Prince Edward Island...

    • Anne of Green Gables – and Afterward
      (pp. 27-34)

      Creating fiction involves five elements, all beginning with the letter “F”: facts, focus, flash, frenzy, fix. When L.M. Montgomery was brooding up the story that would become Anne of Green Gables‚ she had all of these.

      The facts that impinged on her consciousness included a very beautiful natural setting – red earth, green meadows, blue sea and sky, golden sands. But that beauty alternated with a bitter, all-white scenery for half of every year. Another fact she faced was the power of the older generation: a grandmother, repressive and cool, and a now-dead grandfather, still lingering in memory as contemptuous and...

    • Lasting Images of Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 35-44)

      What makes a story last for a hundred years? L.M. Montgomery was a powerful picture-maker who taught millions how to create better pictures for themselves, pictures of a world they would like to live in and help to flourish. We continue to read and to study Montgomery’s images in Anne of Green Gables not because they are pretty or sweet but because they touch the profound, teaching us about creativity itself and about possibilities for the human spirit.

      Montgomery’s highly visual imagination enabled her to conjure what she called “memory pictures” in exquisite detail. All her life she was able...

    • Uncertainties Surrounding the Death of L.M. Montgomery
      (pp. 45-62)

      We will never know with certainty the exact cause of L.M. Montgomery’s death. Did she die of an overdose of medication? If so, was it accidental or intentional? Or did she die from natural causes, either those her doctor wrote on her death certificate or something else? There was no autopsy after she was found dead in her bed on 24 April 1942, in her sixty-eighth year, and the circumstances surrounding her death are ambiguous.

      As I recount in my biography, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings‚ Maud’s younger son, Dr E. Stuart Macdonald (1915–1982), told me that...

    • A Century of Critical Reflection on Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 63-80)

      The L.M. Montgomery phenomenon has gathered momentum ever since the publication of Anne of Green Gables in 1908 established Montgomery’s fame as a writer of popular fiction. A retrospective of the reception of this best loved of Montgomery’s novels attests to the uniqueness of this “first classic” of Canadian children’s literature. Reviewers of popular literature, historians of Canadian literature, academic scholars, librarians, and writers have all voiced their opinions. The questions asked by the early reviewers, as Mavis Reimer observes, tend to recur in later critical literature.¹

      The first reviewers of Anne established a pattern for discussing Montgomery’s novel. They...

    • L.M. Montgomery and the Significance of “Classics,” Ancient and Modern
      (pp. 83-91)

      When we speak colloquially of “a classic,” or certainly of a “children’s classic,” we are referring to some work of modern literature, usually fiction; commonly, if paradoxically, the phrase has come to be used chiefly of works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In former days the term “a classic” would mean something like Hamlet or Paradise Lost; now it more usually means a well-known work that has been around for a while – so David Copperfield and Jane Eyre‚ once popular reading, are now advertised as “classics.” We tend to ignore the once-primary use of the word to refer to...

    • “So– so– commonplace”: Romancing the Local in Anne of Green Gables and Aurora Leigh
      (pp. 92-105)

      It is impossible to read Anne of Green Gables in an unmediated way. Particularly in Canada, one catches sight of the phenomenon, of the novels and character in quotation marks, as it were, long before one reaches the words on the pages. I want to consider the question of what the extraodinary appeal of Anne of Green Gables across generations and oceans (and, it must be added, across an amazing array of products, Web sites, and storefront windows) might teach us about the paradoxical venture of giving to airy nothings a local habitation and a name. I begin, by way...

    • “Matthew’s school of critics”: Learning to Read Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 106-119)

      As the above excerpt from L.M. Montgomery’s letter to Ephraim Weber suggests, Montgomery had foreseen the debates about Anne of Green Gables’s status as a literary classic well before its publication. Her words anticipate the terms that Desmond Pacey invoked in his swift dismissal of the book in Creative Writing in Canada in 1952: “Anne of Green Gables is a children’s classic, and it would be silly to apply adult critical standards to it.”² Pacey’s elitist values led him to paint the book as “the kind of escape literature which a materialistic and vulgar generation craved.”³ Since then, there has...

    • Anne of Green Gables as Centre and Circumference
      (pp. 120-130)

      A last word, let alone the last word, will never emerge when it comes to Anne of Green Gables. Every reader reading Anne – no matter what position she or he occupies in temporal, cultural, or geographical space – has something more, and something unique, to say. It is this ongoing, dynamic process of adaptation and evolution in textual and experiential meaning-making over decades of expanding readership that has anchored Anne’s acquired status as a “classic.” Acquired, I say, because in its earliest days Lucy Maud Montgomery’s most famous novel was not considered the stuff of classics by literary specialists. With time,...

    • “Nice Folks”: L.M. Montgomery’s Classic and Subversive Inscriptions and Transgressions of Class
      (pp. 133-146)

      The literature that we come to know as “classic” often treads a fine line between reinscribing a society’s conventions, particularly of gender and class, and challenging those same values. As has oft been noted, L.M. Montgomery’s work offers strong support to contemporary feminist readers, with strong female characters exercising their voices and agency in opposition to many social mores; indeed, many of her texts featuring outspoken girls have come to be regarded as possessing the hallmarks of “classic” literature. However, Montgomery was more ambivalent about subverting her culture’s ideologies of class, and transgressions of class lines occur less frequently. In...

    • Civilizing Anne: Missionaries of the South Seas, Cavendish Evangelicalism, and the Crafting of Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 147-163)

      Embedded in the classic text of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is a civilizing project distinctly linked to Canada’s first overseas Presbyterian mission. The churchgoers of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotian Presbyterian congregations, including Maud Montgomery’s forebears and family, were instrumental in launching this foreign mission in another far-off corner of the globe, an archipelago in the south Pacific that would later be added to the British Empire. As Mary Rubio has noted, Montgomery’s life on the north shore of Prince Edward Island was profoundly shaped by Scottish Presbyterianism, and the Presbyterian Church figured prominently throughout her life,...

    • Narrating the “Classic” on Stolen Ground: Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 164-178)

      With its one hundred years of continuous publication, its translations into numerous languages, its worldwide readers, and the scholarly engagement that continues to surround it, Anne of Green Gables epitomizes the status of classic. Such popularity, in both Western and non-Western cultures, raises questions about the appeal of a text in which embedded constructions of home, nationality, childhood, and land continue to exclude readers from diasporic identities, such as First Nations peoples. Anne of Green Gables and the literary critical tradition that surrounds it have embodied ideas and processes of identity formation constructed from European and Euro-American colonizers. This paper...

    • Teaching and Reading Anne of Green Gables in Iran, the Land of Omar Khayyam
      (pp. 181-191)

      When I was teaching Anne of Green Gables in Iran, I never imagined I would one day visit Prince Edward Island. Like Anne Shirley, I had “always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living [t]here, but I never really expected I would. It’s delightful when your imaginations come true.”¹ After arriving at the airport, I “pinched myself so many times” but it was “real”;² I was now in the land of Lucy Maud Montgomery.

      I travelled from Iran, formerly known as Persia, the country of Zoroaster, the...

    • Reading Anne of Green Gables in Montevideo
      (pp. 192-199)

      When I first read Anne of Green Gables as an eleven-year-old in Montevideo, Uruguay, it gave me a sense of pure joy. On cold south-Atlantic nights, in my mother’s bedroom, the only one with a fireplace, I could cuddle under thick quilts with my book, to be transported in no time to Marilla’s kitchen, the smell of fresh-baked bread, and the “Snow Queen” in all her luminous and fragrant splendour. Being an eleven-year-old reader, I was less impressed by Anne’s feisty spirit, her imagination, and her gift with words than by the warmth and humanity of her personality, the adventures...

    • Teaching Anne and Antonia in Turkey: Feminist Girlhood in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Willa Cather’s My Antonia
      (pp. 200-215)

      Lucy Maud Montgomery scholars have frequently remarked upon the transnational applicability of her works, which stems primarily from the fact that texts such as Anne of Green Gables (1908) possess qualities that transcend time and place through strong protagonists who appeal to generation after generation of readers. While the Anne series has had extraordinary success in the United States, Japan, and Western European countries such as the United Kingdom and Sweden, it has only recently begun to be appreciated in parts of Eurasia such as Turkey. Although American literary texts entered the Turkish university curriculum during the mid-twentieth century, preceded...

    • The Continuous Popularity of Red-haired Anne in Japan: An Interview with Yoshiko Akamatsu
      (pp. 216-227)

      EDITORS: How would you explain the continuous popularity of Anne of Green Gables in Japan?

      AKAMATSU: In Japan, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables‚ known as Akage-no-An or Red-haired Anne‚ is universally recognized as a Canadian classic. Red-haired Anne has not been out of print since its first translation in Japan in 1952. One generation has passed it to the next, and this inheritance continues. Almost all school and public libraries have copies of Anne of Green Gables in Japanese, which means that this Canadian novel has become part of Japan’s “cultural capital,” the unconscious knowledge cultivated by one’s parents,...

    • “I experienced a light that became a part of me”: Reading Anne of Green Gables in Sweden
      (pp. 228-242)

      Anne of Green Gables was first translated and published in Sweden as Anne på Grönkulla in 1909, the year after its original publication, making it the very first foreign-language translation of Anne. The novel has celebrated a century of success in the Swedish publishing industry and has long been established as a classic. The quotation in the title of this chapter comes from a Swedish reader’s response to L.M. Montgomery’s work. It captures the joy and fulfillment that the fictional world of Montgomery gave this reader in her youth. “I experienced a light that became a part of me” is...

    • “I just love pretty clothes”: Considering the Sartorial in Anne of Green Gables
      (pp. 245-261)

      Writing about her own experiences, L.M. Montgomery embroiders her descriptions with sartorial metaphors. Upon receiving her copy of Anne of Green Gables‚ she eagerly writes, “As far as appearance goes the book is all I could desire – lovely cover design, well bound, well printed. Anne will not fail for lack of suitable garbing at all events.”¹ Although less enthusiastic about her second novel, Montgomery describes Anne of Avonlea in similar fashion terms: “I liked its ‘get-up’ and glanced over it with calm approval.”² Central to both of these comments is an anxiety about acceptance that seems assuaged, in Montgomery’s view,...

    • Writing after Anne: L.M. Montgomery’s Influence on Canadian Children’s Literature
      (pp. 262-280)

      At the opening of Bernice Thurman Hunter’s As Ever, Booky (1985), the teenage protagonist, Booky, is having an argument with her brother about literary greatness. Arthur, who is supposed to be doing his homework at the dining room table, staunchly maintains that Ralph Connor, Christian adventure novelist of the Western Canadian frontier, is Canada’s greatest author. But Booky thinks differently. When Booky’s sister opens the front door, Booky immediately turns to her for support. “Who’s the most famous Canadian author, Willa?” Booky cries, to which Willa answers, without hesitation, “L.M. Montgomery.”¹ Arthur groans and bangs his head on the table,...

    • Writing Before Green Gables
      (pp. 281-288)

      Early in 2006 Helen Reeves phoned me from Penguin Publishers to ask if I would be willing to write a prequel to Anne of Green Gables. A prequel was to be part of Penguin’s proposed three-book celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Anne. My reaction to this astonishing request was very complicated. Basically, I didn’t want to do it. I had three of my own writing projects in motion, and I was loath to abandon them. I was ready and eager to move into a form of writing that was new to me – using a lot of...

  10. Author Biographies
    (pp. 289-296)
  11. Index
    (pp. 297-302)