- Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables
“Anne’s World,” a link on the web site www.foreveranne.com, invites the prospective tourist “to discover the beauty and magic of the real Prince Edward Island.” The eleven essays in Irene Gammel and Benjamin Lefebvre’s Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables explore the ideas of extension and “faux reality” to interrogate the assumption that [End Page 216] any world has exclusive ownership over Anne Shirley or that any of Anne’s worlds can aver to be “real.”
It has long been recognized that Anne’s world reaches well beyond the Cavendish farmhouse where L. M. Montgomery penned the first of her series of nine books featuring the precocious redhead around whom an industry of books, film and stage adaptations, tourist sites and memorabilia, websites, and discussion and research groups has developed. To date, much attention has been given to tracing the paths that led to the creation of Anne and her world. In Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic (2008), for example, Gammel demonstrates that even before Montgomery submitted her manuscript to Boston’s L. C. Page in April 1907, the boundaries of Anne’s world stretched outside her Cavendish roots to encompass the images and stories from books and magazines that Montgomery had absorbed. Anne’s World, which the 2008 one hundredth anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables inspired, extends old and blazes new paths, backwards and forward from 1908, inward and outward from Cavendish. Unlike other media forms celebrating this anniversary—exhibitions, articles and books, prequels and sequels—this anthology is the most self-consciously reflective of our twenty-first-century world that, in her introduction, “Reconsidering Anne’s World,” Gammel describes as “flowing, disjunctive, and migratory” (7) and in which Anne, “an über-connector” (3), “a polymorphous figure” (10), is still at home.
The dual purposes of Anne’s World, as articulated in Gammel’s introduction, are amply realized. The first purpose is that of other publications inspired by the 2008 anniversary, such as Holly Blackford’s 100 Years of Anne with an “e” (2009): to consolidate previous scholarship and suggest how it might be extended. Anne’s World achieves this goal primarily through its valuable bibliography and through the first essay in which Carole Gerson traces “seven milestones”: the novel’s publication and early “branding” by Page; the Hollywood film versions of 1919 and 1934; the commemoration that began in 1936 with the federal government’s purchase of the property most associated with the “faux reality of Green Gables” (23); the global interest in Anne best represented by the Japanese translations commencing in 1952; adaptations, such as the musical in 1965 and television miniseries in 1985; the publication of the first of Montgomery’s journals in 1985, which helped launch the now well-respected academic field of Montgomery studies in the 1990s. If there is one noteworthy gap in this overview and the collection as a whole, it is the absence of any reflection on how the path that Elizabeth Epperly has blazed in exploring [End Page 217] Montgomery’s visual imagination might be extended through further research of the photographs and scrapbooks. While the sixteen colour plates are of both familiar and unfamiliar images, there is none of Montgomery’s photographs, which await further examination in the University of Guelph’s recently digitized archives.
It is the successful fulfilment of the second goal that makes this anthology most distinctive and timely: the projection of “new points of departure” (8) for future study. While Gerson fast forwards through one hundred years of Anne-inspired interventions, Alison Matthews David and Kimberly Wahl look back to the emergence of the turn-of-the-century New Woman and the codes that her dress signaled to provide one explanation of how Anne and her appeal reflect a desire to straddle the familiar pastoral world of home and the modern world...