- 100 Years of Anne with an 'e': The Centennial Study of Anne of Green Gables
Anne Shirley has inspired decades of scholarship, from the early essays collected in Such a Simple Little Tale: Critical Responses to Anne of Green Gables (1992), edited by Mavis Reimer, to the works included in Harvesting Thistles: The Textual Garden of L. M. Montgomery (1994), edited by Mary Henley Rubio, and L. M. Montgomery and Canadian Culture (1999), edited by Irene Gammel and Elizabeth Epperly, as well as countless individual essays that have appeared in a wide range of journals. During the last decade, Anne of Green Gables has been reproduced in a Broadview edition (edited by Cecily Devereux in 2004) as well as a Norton Critical Edition (edited by Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston in 2007). The five-volume Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery (1985–2004), edited by Rubio and Waterston, has provided invaluable perspective on Montgomery's life and work. One of several projects in honor of the novel's centennial, 100 Years of Anne with an 'e,' edited by Holly Blackford, includes twelve essays by a range of international authors. Novice and seasoned scholars will find much to appreciate about the volume.
The first section, "Writing and Placing Anne," opens with "Wildwood Roses and Sunshine Girls: The Making of Anne of Green Gables as a Popular Romance," in which Irene Gammel responds to the concern that Anne may have been inspired by Kate Douglas Wiggin's Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903). Gammel identifies a larger literary context from which Montgomery may have drawn inspiration. "Charity Ann," published by Mary Ann Maitland in 1892 in Godey's Lady's Book, and "Lucy Ann," published by J. L. Harbour in Zion's Herald in 1903 (an issue in which Montgomery also published a short story), are both possible sources for Montgomery's work. Infusing her essay with persuasive detail, Gammel concludes that the works of both Wiggin and Montgomery "can, in fact, be traced to earlier sources and formula genres from which both writers obviously drew" (12).
E. Holly Pike's "L. M. Montgomery and Literary Professionalism" draws from Montgomery's journals and letters (particularly those written to Ephraim Weber and G. B. MacMillan) as well as her autobiography, The Alpine Path, to illustrate Montgomery's development as a professional writer. The essay then catalogs instances in which Montgomery has incorporated previously published material in Anne of Green Gables. Pike notes, "Montgomery's recycling of these incidents does not indicate a lack of imagination or an undue haste in composition, but an ability to revise and recast material so as to make it serve more than one function—a facility, carefully honed, for making the most of available material" (36). [End Page 113]
In "Anne with Two 'G's: Green Gables and Geographical Identity," Joy Alexander considers issues of "space, place, and nature" (43) as they apply to Montgomery's novel. The essay touches the role and placement of the railroad in the novel, Anne's deep affinity for trees, Matthew's liminal status, and the motif "of things or people being misplaced, not in their rightful place, or out of their intuitive place" (49). While engaging, this essay needs to more specifically identify its original contribution to Montgomery scholarship.
The next three essays appear under the heading "Romancing Anne: Language and Silence." Melissa Mullins responds to Anne's seeming loss of imagination and language in "Negotiating the Well-Worn Coin: The Shifting Use of Language in L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables." Initially Anne "can be seen as the Romantic ideal of the poet sent in to legislate the poetry of Avonlea to its unenlightened residents" (68); Mullins draws on relevant passages from Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Shelley to reinforce her interpretation. Providing an especially nuanced interpretation of the Lily Maid episode, Mullins detects "Anne's inevitable transition out of the fully Romantic poet figure" (73) and argues that the allusion to Tennyson, and his position as a Victorian poet with...