Tag Archives: The Blythes Are Quoted

The Blythes Are Quoted to Join Penguin Modern Classics Series

The Blythes Are Quoted (Viking Canada, 2009)I’m thrilled to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, which Penguin Canada published in 2009, will be republished in October 2017 as part of the Penguin Canada Modern Classics imprint! It can be pre-ordered through the Penguin Random House Canada website and through all book vendors.

Given that 2017 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Montgomery’s death, and given that the typescript for the book was apparently delivered to her publisher the very day of her death (which was interpreted by her family as a suicide), I am especially pleased that the book will be released again during this anniversary year.

More details about this new edition, including cover art, will be published here as soon as they’re available!

30 November 1874

L.M. Montgomery in her early forties, 1917
L.M. Montgomery in her early forties, 1917

Today, on what would have been L.M. Montgomery’s 141st birthday (she was born on 30 November 1874), I would like to share with you an extract from a journal entry dated exactly 101 years ago, on the occasion of Montgomery’s fortieth birthday:

Once I thought forty must be the end of everything. But it isn’t! I don’t feel any older today than yesterday—when I was only 39! Or the day before yesterday when I was—19! Thank God we don’t feel old. Life is much richer, fuller, happier, more comfortable for me now than it was when I was twenty. I have won the success I resolved to win twenty years ago. It is worth the struggle—but I would not wish to be twenty again with the struggle still before me.

Poster for L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment
Poster for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment

Montgomery is trending on the Internet as I write this, due in large part to several Google Doodles paying tribute to Anne of Green Gables. And as Melanie J. Fishbane has pointed out in a blog post published earlier this afternoon, this is an exciting time for Montgomery and especially for Anne, thanks to the upcoming new telefilm version of Anne of Green Gables, a shout-out about the novel in a recent episode of The Simpsons, and numerous celebrity mentions. A list of “Five Fast Facts You Need to Know” about Montgomery was also published today, on the website Heavy, and mentions her rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted.

I’m glad, because all this media attention reflects the continued relevance and the persistent quality of Montgomery’s writing, not only as works of literature but also as the basis for an enduring popular culture icon and a set of new Anne texts for stage and screen. I’m looking forward to delving back into the novel Anne of Green Gables next term, when I  teach the book in an undergraduate children’s literature course at Wilfrid Laurier University, as an example of a crossover text that continues to appeal to both adults and children.

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.

Anne of Prince Edward Island

Ania z Wyspy Ksiecia EdwardaIn a journal entry dated March 1910, Montgomery mentioned that she had recently received a copy of the Swedish translation of Anne of Green Gables, which she found “interesting as a curiosity,” not because of the translated text but because of the bizarre cover image and design. Today I had a somewhat similar experience after receiving my copies of Ania z Wyspy Księcia Edwarda, the Polish translation of The Blythes Are Quoted, which was published a few months ago in both hardcover and paperback by Wydawnictwo Literackie in Crakow. For me, the “curiosity” was not the cover image, since the Polish edition simply duplicated the cover of the original hardcover edition, but the advertising copy used to entice readers to buy the book.

Although Montgomery wasn’t able to comment on the translation of the Swedish translation of Anne of Green Gables because she spoke no Swedish, a reader today has fewer obstacles in this regard, thanks to Google Translate. So it’s remarkably easy to figure out that the title of the Polish edition is Anne of Prince Edward Island, which I actually prefer to the title of the Finnish edition, Anne’s Farewell. In contrast to the deliberately provocative first line of the jacket copy of the English-language edition – “Adultery, illegitimacy, revenge, murder, and death – these are not the first terms we associate with L.M. Montgomery” – the Polish edition takes a remarkably different tack.

The tag on the front cover translates as “Previously unpublished final volume of adventures / Anne of Green Gables,” which is fairly similar to “The rediscovered last work of L.M. Montgomery.” On the back cover, they add an almost identical tag (“Last, never previously published volume of adventures / Anne of Green Gables”) followed by the following blurb:

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s wishes were to close the book series about the most famous red-haired heroine of all time. The text provided to the publisher just before the death of the author had never appeared in its entirety. Its premiere in Canada in 2009 created a sensation in the publishing market and delighted readers.

And then, right below this, in a larger font: “Get to know the fate of Ani, Gilbert and their loved ones!”

Is this a better marketing tack? I really don’t know, but I notice that if you type in “Ania z Wyspy Księcia Edwarda” into Google, there are 810,000 hits, compared to 125,000 hits for “The Blythes Are Quoted.” What this indicates, however, is anybody’s guess.

Also, I’ve just been informed that the Kindle version of The Blythes Are Quoted is available again, but on Amazon.com only. I’m not sure why it’s available only there, but at least it can be ordered by Kindle readers all over the world. It’s also available as an e-book directly from Penguin Canada.

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.

Available Today

Published today are the paperback version of my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, and a restored and annotated edition of Montgomery’s First World War novel, Rilla of Ingleside, edited in collaboration with Andrea McKenzie. Both are now available in bookstores across Canada and will soon appear at local libraries. They can also be shipped worldwide if ordered from Amazon.ca or from Penguin Canada.

bq-2010-penguincanada Rilla of Ingleside (Viking Canada, 2010)

Blythes Notes 2

When putting together The Blythes Are Quoted near the end of her life, L.M. Montgomery repeated the strategy she had used when putting together Chronicles of Avonlea three decades earlier: she rewrote existing stories about unrelated characters and locations in order to include mentions of and brief appearances by Anne. In looking for material that could be reworked for Anne and her family, Montgomery selected not only some of her short stories published throughout the 1930s, but also a few that she was not able to publish.

Three of the short stories were published in Family Herald and Weekly Star, a Montreal farm magazine, and the first short story in the book is also the earliest. “Some Fools and a Saint” was published in its original form in Family Herald and Weekly Star in four instalments in May and June 1931; this version was also reprinted in the collection of short stories Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side. The original version of “Fool’s Errand” followed in February 1933, and the original version of “An Afternoon with Mr. Jenkins” appeared in August 1933. Note that these stories in their original form had nothing to do with Anne, the Blythes, or the community of Glen St. Mary.

Three more stories were published elsewhere throughout the 1930s. Several more appear in Montgomery’s records of her income as a writer, indicating that they were in fact published in the original form, but we haven’t yet been able to determine where. Three of the short stories, though, don’t appear on Montgomery’s ledger: “The Pot and the Kettle,” “The Reconciliation,” and “Retribution.” Was their inclusion in The Blythes Are Quoted an attempt by Montgomery to salvage work that was deemed too controversial for magazine publication?