Vappu Kannas

Revisiting Anne and Montgomery

Three new books released this month invite readers to revisit the story of Anne of Green Gables and the life story L.M. Montgomery prepared for posthumous publication in the form of ten handwritten volumes of journals. All three books are the result of careful dedication on the part of volume editors whose painstaking attention to detail has made rare archival material come alive for Montgomery’s worldwide readership.

Cover art for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

First, Halifax publisher Nimbus Publishing has released Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript, edited by Carolyn Strom Collins. This book consists of a transcription of the handwritten manuscript of Anne of Green Gables that showcases for the first time Montgomery’s creative process and elaborate revision system. It also includes, as an appendix, a gallery of rare covers of translated editions of the novel. Past scholarship has turned to the manuscript of Anne of Green Gables to study part of the writing process of the novel—revealing such details as the fact that Montgomery considered “Laura” and “Gertrude” as the names of Anne’s bosom friend before settling on “Diana”—but this book marks the first time readers will be able to see that creative process for themselves.

Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript will be launched at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown on 1 August 2019.

Cover art for Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery

Also from Nimbus Publishing is a paperback edition of Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, first published in hardcover in 2008 as part of Penguin Canada’s 100 Years of Anne celebration. This book features beautiful reproductions of key pages from two of Montgomery’s PEI scrapbooks on which she pasted a wide range of ephemera in order to create a visual archive for her creative process. In her commentary, Epperly suggests linkages between the individual items, the stories they tell in Montgomery’s arrangement of them on the page, and the way that they inspired key moments in Anne of Green Gables. As the back cover rightly proclaims, this book offers readers “a revealing look inside the mind of one of the most cherished writers of the twentieth century.”

The new edition of Imagining Anne will be launched at UPEI’s Robertson Library in Charlottetown on 25 July 2019.

Cover art for L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930-1933

Finally, Rock’s Mills Press has published L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930–1933, the fifth volume of Montgomery’s unabridged Ontario journals prepared by Jen Rubio. This volume contains all diary entries dated 1930 to 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, at which point Montgomery and her family were living in Norval, Ontario. These were difficult years for her, especially due to a revelation made by one of her sons that distressed her so much that she was unable to write full diary entries for almost three years. Like Epperly’s Imagining Anne, this book offers readers “a revealing look inside the mind of one of the most cherished writers of the twentieth century,” but for very different reasons – it showcases the private anguish of a woman who, acutely aware of societal expectations, turned to her journal as a safe outlet for her worries and secrets, but her increased awareness of these journals as a document that she wanted to be published after her death also constrained her ability to be completely honest in this record of her life.

In addition to these three books, a number of recent journal articles and book chapters have been pushing the conversation about Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways:

  • Elizabeth Rollins Epperly, “Reading Time: L.M. Montgomery and the ‘Alembic of Fiction’” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Irene Gammel, “‘We Are the Dead’: Rhetoric, Community and the Making of John McCrae’s Iconic War Poem” (in First World War Studies)
  • Caroline E. Jones, “Idylls of Play: L.M. Montgomery’s Child-Worlds” (in Children’s Play in Literature: Investigating the Strengths and the Subversions of the Playing Child)
  • Vappu Kannas, “‘Emily Equals Childhood and Youth and First Love’: Finnish Readers and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily Books” (in Reading Today)
  • Laura Leden, “Girls’ Classics and Constraints in Translation: A Case Study of Purifying Adaptation in the Swedish Translation of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon” (in Barnboken)
  • Jane Nicholas, “The Children’s Séance: Child Death, the Body, and Grief in Interwar Ontario” (in The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth)
  • Christopher Parkes, “Anne Is Angry: Female Beauty and the Transformative Power of Cruelty in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables” (in Cruel Children in Popular Texts and Cultures)
  • Julie A. Sellers, “‘A Good Imagination Gone Wrong’: Reading Anne of Green Gables as a Quixotic Novel” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Rob Shields, “Lifelong Sorrow: Settler Affect, State and Trauma at Anne of Green Gables” (in Settler Colonial Studies)
  • Emily Stokes-Rees, “Re-thinking Anne: Representing Japanese Culture at a Quintessentially Canadian Site” (in Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change)
  • Janet Wesselius, “Anne’s Body Has a Mind (and Soul) of Its Own: Embodiment and the Cartesian Legacy in Anne of Green Gables” (in The Embodied Child: Readings in Children’s Literature and Culture)

Latest Scholarship on L.M. Montgomery

A number of new contributions to the field of L.M. Montgomery Studies have appeared over the last few months, in addition to Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, and I wanted to take a moment to highlight them.

The Oxford Handbook of Canadian LiteratureThe Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, edited by Cynthia Sugars, has just been published by Oxford University Press. Montgomery is mentioned in detail in book chapters on a variety of topics—including disability, women’s writing, children’s literature, gay and lesbian writing, auto/biography, Atlantic Canadian literature, the short story, and post-Confederation nationalism—by Tracy Ware, Carole Gerson, Alexander MacLeod, Tony Tremblay, Julie Rak, Deirdre Baker, Cecily Devereux, Terry Goldie and Lee Frew, and Sally Chivers.

In December 2015, the online journal The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature published a special issue on L.M. Montgomery. It includes paratexts by Caroline Jones and Carolyn Strom Collins as well as articles by Yoshiko Akamatsu, Vappu Kannas, Lauren Makrancy, Laura Leden, and Shea Keats.

In addition, several more journal articles have appeared elsewhere in the last few months, by Sarah Galletly (in British Journal of Canadian Studies), Carol L. Beran (in American Review of Canadian Studies), Gabrielle Owen (in Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures), and Kelly Blewett (in The Lion and the Unicorn).

Also in December 2015, Vappu Kannas successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Entitled “‘The Forlorn Heroine of a Terribly Sad Life Story’: Romance in the Journals of L.M. Montgomery,” the dissertation is available for download. Congratulations, Dr. Kannas!

And just yesterday, the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society published the 2015 issue of its newsletter, The Shining Scroll. This issue is filled with fascinating articles and news by Mary Beth Cavert, Carolyn Strom Collins, Christy Woster, Gwen Layton, and Linda Boutilier.

Happy reading!

L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory: Day 4

Guest post by Vappu Kannas

My name is Vappu Kannas and I’ll be giving you my impressions on Day 4—sadly the final day—of the wonderful L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory conference. I came to PEI all the way from Helsinki, Finland, where I’m doing my Ph.D. on Montgomery’s journals.

As seems to be a habit among the guest bloggers, I too was a bit late for the first session of Day 4. Like Melanie, I’m not a morning person and sometimes wish conference sessions happened late at night (perhaps in a pub). However, I was able to catch the last few minutes of Kate Sutherland’s talk on Montgomery’s legal battles. I’ve heard Kate’s earlier papers and I’m always so fascinated about her insights on this aspect of Montgomery’s life. Then, Adeline Carrie Koscher from Massachusetts talked about the New Woman in our cultural memory and aptly demonstrated that Anne of Green Gables is a New Woman character. The panel was completed with Emily Woster’s great talk on her Ph.D. project on Montgomery’s ”reading autobiograhy”. I can’t wait to get my hands on Emily’s dissertation! (By the way, Emily’s sister’s name is Anne.)

The second and last panel of the day was a special one. Dana Gerberi and Sandy Wagner talked about the very concrete aspect of Montgomery’s cultural memory: her handiwork, or, more specifically, hooked mats and quilts. Dana connected the hooking of rugs with the hooking of stories, and showed us that many of Montgomery’s fictional characters (as well as herself) are characterized through their quilts, needlework, and so on. We also heard a nice piece of local folklore which states that Ewan and Maud stood on a hooked rug made by Maud’s grandmother, when they were married in Park Corner in 1911. Sandy showed us some elaborate patterned quilts with names such as ”Flying Goose” and ”Rising Sun”; somebody in the audience even mentioned a ”Tuxedo pattern”. I wonder what that looks like.

That’s the end of my ”serious” notes, but this is where the fun field trip part begins! The now-famous Bus Tour of Montgomery Places took off around midday. With our brown paper bags (containing lunch), we ventured out of Charlottetown to visit or re-visit all the important Montgomery-related places: Park Corner/Silver Bush (Anne of Green Gables Museum), Montgomery’s Birth Place in New London, Green Gables, and the Macneill Homestead in Cavendish. It was great to be back to those enchanting places that I saw for the first time in 2010 with my new LMM friends and my parents. In addition to visiting the museums, I enjoyed some nice chatting time with Mary Beth Cavert in the bus, and getting to know William (Bill) Thompson from Edmonton, who was visiting the LMM places on PEI for the first time.

Another special moment was a joint endeavour to clean Frede Campbell’s grave in the Geddie Memorial Cemetary, where we stopped briefly. Frede was a very important friend of Montgomery’s and she describes Frede’s death, which devastated her, in a long entry in her journals. Initiated by the always vigilant Vanessa Brown, it was a touching moment to see these friends of Montgomery, and thus of Frede, scratching off the lichen from the gravestone with their bare hands. We all went back to the bus with a little bit of cultural memory under our nails.

The day ended at the Macneill Homestead in Cavendish where Montgomery used to live from 1876 to 1911. Unfortunately the actual house is not there anymore, but a walk around the grounds and what used to be the old apple orchard brings Montgomery’s times vividly back. There’s something very soothing and peaceful in the atmosphere at the Homestead. We took the same little short cut path that Montgomery used to take to go to church, and heard some wonderful Island poets (Deirdre Kessler, Judy Gaudet, David Helwig, and Hugh MacDonald) recite their own poems among Montgomery’s and Milton Acorn’s poems in the Cavendish United Church, where we could also see Montgomery’s old organ, so instrumental in her meeting her future husband Reverend Ewan Macdonald…

Through the misty (and a bit ghostly) evening we headed back to Charlottetown, after a short visit to Montgomery’s grave. Luckily, this wonderful conference does not have to end in the rather sad sight of Montgomery’s final resting place, but in the new beginnings of people flying off to their various destinations. We all leave PEI with our own unique but shared memories of the last four days. With ideas for fan fiction and Emily and Anne spin-offs (Anne meets Tarzan, Emily turns into a vampire, Walter meets Dean Priest etc.), I can’t wait for the next conference in 2014 to continue all the conversations began here.