Discussion

Remembrance Day Blogs: Rilla and Walter

Rilla of Ingleside (Penguin Canada, 2011)In honour of Remembrance Day, two recent blog entries have appeared discussing L.M. Montgomery’s depiction of the Great War in Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted. First, Christine Chettle discusses Walter Blythe’s poems “The Piper” and “The Aftermath” on the website for the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Leeds:

Most famous for her tale of cheerful red-headed orphan Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery offers a more complicated view of the Canadian war experience. Like many of her contemporaries, the fiercely patriotic Montgomery viewed World War I as a struggle for liberty against a threat of evil from Kaiser’s Germany.

Next, Melanie Fishbane talks about Montgomery’s experience during the war in her fiction and her life writing on the Indigo website:

It is hard for us to imagine that one hundred years ago, the boys we grew up with, the men we may have worked with and our brothers, husbands and partners would have joined in the wake of that strong call to arms in the belief that Canada, as an English colony, was in real danger.  It is also hard to imagine, that many of those same men never came home.  If we consider Montgomery’s fictional world of Ingleside, as a representation of the different townships across Canada, than I think we will begin to understand the magnitude WWI (and subsequent wars) had on our nation’s history.

L.M. Montgomery and the British Monarchy

In light of the growing buzz in the media of late about apparent plans for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Prince William and Kate Middleton) to stop by Prince Edward Island on their royal visit to Canada next month because of Kate’s childhood love of Anne of Green Gables, Mary Beth Cavert has published an essay entitled “L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, and Royal Visits to Prince Edward Island,” part of her exciting research on Montgomery’s book dedications.

Montgomery and Rejections

The Online College website has published a post called “50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected,” with links to detailed reports of the early struggles of a number of writers ranging from J.K. Rowling to Dr. Seuss to Stephen King. To this list I’d add L.M. Montgomery, whose first book, Anne of Green Gables, was rejected by four or five publishers (the exact number depends on which version of the story you read) before being published to great acclaim by L.C. Page & Company in 1908. While the success of Anne of Green Gables and its successors certainly opened up a lot of doors to her, she continued to face rejection throughout her career. She reported in her journal that her poem “I Wish You” was rejected twenty-three times before it was published in Good Housekeeping in January 1936. This poem appeared again in The Blythes Are Quoted, which includes several short stories that Montgomery had tried unsuccessfully to publish in magazines before reworking them for her final book.

Blythes Notes 1

The Blythes Are Quoted contains forty-one poems attributed to Anne Shirley Blythe and to her son Walter Blythe, who in Rilla of Ingleside goes off to fight in the Great War. Many of these poems were published in periodicals under Montgomery’s name from the early 1920s onward. One exception is “The Old Path Round the Shore,” which was first published much earlier, in a magazine called The Household Ledger, in 1903. “The Piper,” the first poem that appears in the book, was submitted by Montgomery to Saturday Night magazine three weeks before her death, and was published posthumously in the 2 May 1942 issue.

The Blythes Are Quoted in The Guardian and Beyond

An article about The Blythes Are Quoted by Alison Flood appears in today’s The Guardian:

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s last work, featuring surprising experiments with poetry and prose, to be published in full

Penguin Canada is due to publish Lucy Maud Montgomery’s final book in its entirety, casting a new shadow over the author of Anne of Green Gables.

[…]

Despite the darker elements to The Blythes Are Quoted, Penguin is hoping to reach children as well as adults, aiming for the readers who bought Budge Wilson’s prequel to Anne’s story, Before Green Gables, last spring.

This story was subsequently picked up by the Wall Street Journal in today’s Morning Roundup blog:

Anne Returns, Again: Someone who wasn’t afraid of sequels is Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the “Anne of Green Gables” books. Penguin Canada is going to publish the ninth volume of the series in full. “The Blythes Are Quoted” follows freckle-faced heroine Anne Shirley through the First World War.

This story was then picked up again by The Examiner in an article by Peter Franklin called “A scandalous week”:

Lastly, it was revealed just today that Penguin Canada is set to publish an unabridged version of the final book of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables series. Entitled The Blythes Are Quoted, the novel is said to include “adultery, illegitimacy, misogyny, revenge, murder, despair, bitterness, hatred, and death,” as well as an experimentation with storytelling not seen in the other volumes.

This development adds to the growing pall around Montgomery’s public perception; her granddaughter admitted last year that the children’s author had died of a drug overdose.

However, most shocking here is Penguin’s plan to market The Blythes Are Quoted in all of its murder and misogyny to kids. Alison Flood writes: “Penguin is hoping to reach children as well as adults, aiming for the readers who bought Budge Wilson’s prequel to Anne’s story, Before Green Gables, last spring.”