The "Anne" in "Canadianness"
- Irene Gammel (Editor) and Elizabeth Epperly (Editor)
L.M. Montgomery and Canadian Culture. University of Toronto Press (purchase at Amazon.ca)
Reviewed by Cecily DevereuxIrene Gammel and Elizabeth Epperly’s new collection shows the compelling new directions which these studies have taken in the past few years. This volume is based on the proceedings of the ten-year-old L.M. Montgomery Institute’s third international conference, held in Charlottetown in 1998, and organized, as the book’s title indicates, around the question of Montgomery as she and her work figure in—and, as Gammel and Epperly suggest, "shape"—"Canadian culture." Only two of these essays have been previously published: Atwood’s essay originally appeared as the "Afterword" to McClelland and Stewart’s 1992 NCL Anne of Green Gables; Calvin Trillin’s "Anne of Red Hair: What do the Japanese See in Anne of Green Gables?" was first published in The New Yorker in 1996. The fifteen other chapters—including three more "Reflection Pieces" like Atwood’s—the introduction by Gammel and Epperly, and the epilogue by Dierdre Kessler are new contributions. Together, they constitute what, by any measure, is a landmark work in the academic study of L.M. Montgomery. The volume is divided into three parts: the first takes up questions of nationalism; the second of "society"; the third investigates how the "national iconography" of Anne and of Green Gables is circulated and consumed in Canada and in other national contexts. In this latter section, Theodore F. Sheckels looks at the 1934 American motion picture of Anne of Green Gables; Sheckels’s argument about the "Americanization of a Canadian icon" draws attention to the "Canadianness" of Anne. Trillin’s and Yoshiko Akamatsu’s chapters on Japanese readings of Anne of Green Gables nicely problematize that "Canadianness" by foregrounding the ways that Montgomery’s heroine is reconfigured and revalued in Japan. Frank Davey treats Anne and shifts in reading of the novel as indices of feminist social change in Canada. The middle section is broadly historical in its focus: these essays situate Montgomery and her fiction in social, political, and ideological contexts. Mary Rubio draws attention to the Scots-Presbyterian culture within which Montgomery is writing and which she reproduces in so much of her fiction. Gammel and Ann Dutton look at the ideological apparatus of education; Sasha Mullally writes about the technology of the automobile. Erika Rothwell and Diana Arlene Chlebek discuss the works as they reproduce feminist and maternalist ideology of the early twentieth century. In the first section, Carole Gerson’s essay on what she terms "the triangle of author, publisher, and fictional character," is an important account of the complex publishing history of Anne of Green Gables. Laura Robinson’s discussion of "Communal Identity" in Anne of Green Gables and A Tangled Web makes the interesting if arguable point that Montgomery is working to "open up" the boundaries of "Canadianness." Jennifer Litster and Owen Dudley Edwards address the complicated investment of Montgomery’s novels in World War One nationalism.
What is most effective about this volume is its focus on Canadian culture: the collection represents not only an important critical engagement of Montgomery’s work with questions of nationalism but also a more broadly significant investigation of English-Canadian nationalism itself and, to some extent, of the discourses of nationalism as they have been taken up and reconfigured in other national contexts, including Japan. This is not a collection of essays which simply revisits the past decade of Montgomery study; rather, this volume really takes it in new directions within Canadian cultural studies. The categories into which the editors have divided the book open up a range of readings, and show not only how much interesting new work already exists on Montgomery, but also how much there is still to be done.
- Growing Pains by Gisèle M. Baxter
Books reviewed: i.d.: Stuff That Happens to Define Us by Peter Mitchell and Kate Scowen and We Want You to Know: Kids Talk about Bullying by Deborah Ellis
- Three Brats, One Hero by Hilary Turner
Books reviewed: A Night on the Town by Caroline Merola, All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine by Monica Kulling, Curtain Up! by Dirk McLean, and Lulu's Piano Lesson by Arlene Alda
- 21th Century Fantasy by K.V. Johansen
Books reviewed: Beyond Window-Dressing?: Canadian Children's Fantasy at the Millennium by K.V. Johansen
- Kids' Animal Books Moving by Lynn (J.R.) Wytenbroek
Books reviewed: Shimmerdogs by Dianne Linden, Dog Tracks by Ruby Slipperjack, and The Nine Lives of Travis Keating by Jill MacLean
- La courte échelle by Daniela Di Cecco
Books reviewed: La livre de la nuit by Marie-Francine Hébert and Pas de Chausson dans mon salon by Gilles Gauthier
MLA: Devereux, Cecily. The "Anne" in "Canadianness". canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 8 Dec. 2011. Web. 21 May 2013.
This review originally appeared in Canadian Literature #172 (Spring 2002), Auto / biography. (pg. 166 - 167)
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