EPJ in "New" Reprint
- A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff (Editor) and E. Pauline Johnson (Author)
The Moccasin Maker. University of Oklahoma Press (purchase at Amazon.ca)
Reviewed by Cecily Devereux
The republication in 1998 of E. Pauline Johnson’s The Moccasin Maker ensures the continued availability of a collection of short stories and essays that will be of interest to anyone who studies late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century English-Canadian literature, First Nations writing in North America, or questions of gender, race, imperialism, colonialism, nationalism and feminism in the period between the second North-West Rebellion and the First World War. A reprint of one of the two collections of Johnson’s short work to have been published posthumously in 1913 (the other is The Shagganappi), the text is a photoduplication of the first Ryerson Press edition of The Moccasin Maker, the edition as a whole is a republication of the 1987 University of Arizona Press reprint, introduced and annotated by A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff, Professor Emérita of English at the University of Illinois, author of American Indian Literatures, and editor of S. Alice Callahan’s Wynema: A Child of the Forest. There are no substantive differences between the 1987 and the 1998 editions.
Brown Ruoff’s quite detailed notes are an especially valuable aspect of this edition of The Moccasin Maker, they present information about the original publication of each of the short works in this collection, and usefully cross-reference the stories and essays with other writing by Johnson. The notes also offer historical, biographical and geographical details that will be particularly valuable for students approaching Johnson’s work for the first time. Brown Ruoff’s introduction is similarly geared towards first-time readers, providing, as it does, mostly biographical information about Johnson and her family, and situating her writing in relatively unproblema-tized relation to late nineteenth-century American "sentimental" writing by women.
While the introduction and the notes, as well as the bibliography, certainly enhance the suitability of this edition as a teaching text, the retention of the 1987 apparatus somewhat undermines the "newness" of this new edition. More recent scholarship on Johnson might have been rewardingly integrated into the bibliography; and the theoretical discussion of Johnson’s writing in the introduction might similarly have been updated. Brown Ruoff compares Johnson to the nineteenth-century English and American women writers discussed by Elaine Showalter in A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing (1977) and by Nina Baym in Woman’s Fiction: A Guide to Novels by and About Women in America, 1820-1870 (1978). The result is a rather uneasy alignment of Johnson, in terms of gender, with women writers across what are not indicated as the constructed boundaries of race, nation, and empire. Johnson is configured here as a writer who "champions Victorian values" and is only differentiated from other "women in the late nineteenth century [by] her frequent use of Indian heroines." The complexities of Johnson’s imperialism and the tension it produces in her own hybridized "performance" of herself as both white and aboriginal are not addressed here; nor is there much discussion of the critical reception of her work in English Canada or Britain.
The absence of these questions is reinforced by the exclusion of the original introductory material. Gilbert Parker’s "Introduction" to the 1913 edition and Charles Mair’s "Appreciation" are arguably crucial to the text as it was first assembled, serving—at the very least—to draw attention to the kind of political and cultural context within which the stories and essays were produced, as well as to explain the relative absence of Johnson’s fiction from the tur η - of- the- century English- Canadian canon: both Mair and Parker, in the 1913 edition, downplay Johnson’s skill as a writer of stories, even as they eulogize her. Such an edition as Brown Ruoff’s with its clear, useful annotations is thus still a crucial reclamation of work which had been, until the 1980s at any rate, too often overlooked.
- Excelsior! Religion and Reform in Nineteenth Century Canada by Misao Dean
Books reviewed: Revivals and Roller Rinks: Religion, Leisurre and Identity in Late-Nineteenth-Century Small-Town Ontario by Lynne Marks and Roland Graeme, Knight by Carole Gerson and Agnes Maule Machar
- Culturally Bound Illness by Anna Cooper
Books reviewed: Gout: The Patrician Malady by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau, Illness and Culture in the Postmodern Age by David B. Morris, and Wishbone Dance by Glen Downie
- Whose Canada? by Carole Gerson
Books reviewed: The Museum Called Canada by Sara Angel and Charlotte Gray
- EPJ in "New" Reprint by Cecily Devereux
Books reviewed: The Moccasin Maker by E. Pauline Johnson and A. LaVonne Brown Ruoff
- Magic in Narrative by Bryan N. S. Gooch
Books reviewed: An Evening with W.O. Mitchell by Barbara Mitchell and Ormond Mitchell and Magic Lies: The Art of W.O. Mitchell by Sheila Latham and David Latham
MLA: Devereux, Cecily. EPJ in "New" Reprint. canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 8 Dec. 2011. Web. 20 May 2013.
This review originally appeared in Canadian Literature #168 (Spring 2001), Mostly Drama. (pg. 162 - 163)
***Please note that the articles and reviews from the Canadian Literature website (www.canlit.ca) may not be the final versions as they are printed in the journal, as additional editing sometimes takes place between the two versions. If you are quoting from the website, please indicate the date accessed when citing the web version of reviews and articles.