A Failed Uncle Tom's Cabin for the IndianHelen Hunt Jackson's Ramona and the Power of Paratext
In an 1883 letter to her publisher about her novel-in-progress, Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson famously stated that she wished the 1884 novel "would do for the Indian a thousandth part what 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' did for the Negro" (qtd. in Marsden 17). Though the novel was widely read and highly successful, selling more than ten thousand copies in its first ten years of printing, it did not have the lasting cultural impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin as a protest novel (Tebbel 281). By the 1930s the novel had inspired four film adaptations, a yearly festival, many school and town names, and many other books. Yet by the 1950s the novel was little read. Instead of cultural change, Ramona's long-term cultural legacy was the creation of a tourist destination and a best seller, which actively worked against the stated protest message, drawing greater and greater numbers of tourists and settlers to the sites of the novel rather than returning those sites to the Native Americans whom Jackson aimed to help.
In recent decades literary scholarship has often focused on the ways that Jackson herself failed to imbue the novel with the necessary power to create lasting change. Valerie Sherer Mathes argues, based on an 1885 Overland Monthly review, that with Ramona's publication "more poet than reformer emerged. [Ramona] possessed 'no burning appeal, no crushing arraignment, no such book as 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'" (83). Martin Padget argues that while Jackson "criticized sharply the federal government's removal and reservation policies from the 1830s on for keeping Indians separate from the general population … thus maintaining their marginal status on the fringes of American society," this message was obscured [End Page 129] in the novel (834). Padget argues that Jackson's contemporary readers missed the message of Indian reform present in the novel in part because of Jackson's own biases against Indians and support of missionary culture, marked by her choice to dramatize Alessandro's tribe's "poverty, displacement, and cultural demise as a consequence of the loss of their former home" (853). John M. Gonzalez contends that the novel's success, ironically, further eroded Native American land rights, arguing that "the novel's very success prompted heavy promotion of southern California for literary tourism and homesteading, further displacing Indian communities as more white settlers migrated to the area" (455). Overall, critics have blamed Jackson's plot, characterizations, and excessive praise of the mission system for the novel's failure to establish itself as an important protest novel.
The mission system, and Ramona's connection to it, became a fundamental part of California's attempt to create a history for itself. Historian Mike Davis argues that Ramona "transformed selected elements of local history into romantic myth" (26). Charles Fletcher Lummis, the first city editor of The Los Angeles Times, "promoted the [mission] myth as the motif of an entire artificial landscape" and organized an 1895 Los Angeles "Fiesta around a comprehensive 'mission' theme, influenced by Ramona" (Davis 26). In Davis's view, Ramona's legacy is that of "a romance that generations of tourists and white Angelenos have confused with real history" (330). As Davis argues, in the decades after Ramona the mission myth became a fundamental part of the way Californians constructed the state's past. Ramona, Kate Phillips argues, held a "unique romantic legend" for many white readers that afforded "American newcomers to California with a ready-made, usable past, one with which they could more easily identify than with the region's actual history of Native American tenure and still troubled colonial occupation" (275). Ramona came to be used as a way of forgetting the atrocities committed against the Native Americans rather than as a touchstone for reform. A site of trauma is transformed into a site of celebration and consumption, just as the state is transformed from one founded on depravity to one with a romantic mission past.
While Padget and Gonzalez have explored the reasons that Jackson [End Page 130] deserves a large share of the blame for the failure of the novel to become an influential reform novel, the marketing practices of her publishers, particularly after her 1885 death, also played a fundamental role in influencing public opinion about the novel. The covers, advertisements, illustrations, and prefaces that the publisher chose for her novel responded to growing interest in Ramona-related sites as travel destinations and sites of mythmaking. By choosing to reinforce a changing perception of the novel in its physical appearance, Jackson's publishers confirmed and forwarded a message about Ramona that encouraged readers to travel to the sites mentioned within it. I argue that the publishers craft this message through a growing number of paratextual inclusions that emphasize the natural beauty of the novel's California setting to the exclusion of the people whom Jackson's reform message was intended to help.
This strategy began shortly after the novel's publication and intensified with later printings, coinciding with the continued expansion of Ramona-related tourism. Over time, references to Jackson's nonfiction treatise about Native American mistreatment, A Century of Dishonor, disappear from the text, and instead, paratexts that emphasize place over people and memory over action while encouraging travel to Southern California appear. The majority of these paratexts suggest, either by simple neglect or outright statement, that the problems facing Native Americans that Jackson tries to explore have been solved in the years between the novel's composition and its reprinting, further undermining Jackson's attempt at reform. As Karen Ramirez notes, Jackson's reform novel is not wholly flawed, as Jackson "creates sympathetic identification with [the novel's] American Indian characters by stressing that the Indians are 'peaceable farmers' with a strong Christian faith who are unjustly being denied their rights" (30). However, these sympathetic portrayals are immediately undercut by the prefaces and afterwords added by the publisher that surround the novel. The physical form of the novel encourages readers to focus on the travel directives of the story while ignoring the injustices that face both the novel's characters and a wider segment of the country's population. Without acknowledgment of Jackson's Native American activism, [End Page 131] the paratexts encourage the novel to be read not as a politically charged reform text but instead as a travelogue. In this way the paratexts of the novel engage in the undermining of Jackson's political message. Through close examination of them this article provides a new understanding of how Jackson's political reform novel failed in its mission.
The influence of Jackson's publishers on the physical appearance of the novel and the novel's reception have been understudied in Ramona scholarship, but they provide an important parallel to the critical explorations of why Jackson's message failed to endure. My focus is on the novel's most popular years, from its first 1884 publication through 1913, when the last explicitly travel-themed edition was published. I trace the changes in the appearance of the physical text, including the different covers, flypapers, title pages, and advertising supplements. I will also trace the addition of introductions and other articles, particularly those by people professing to be Jackson's friends and contemporaries, and I argue that these emendations undermined a reader's ability to see Jackson's reform message.
When considered together, these paratextual inclusions highlight another reason for Ramona's failure to maintain its hoped-for legacy of being an Uncle Tom's Cabin for the American Indian. The publishers of Jackson's novel participated in undermining her message and selling Ramona as a travel narrative, particularly after Jackson's death and into the early twentieth century. In remaking Ramona into a travelogue, Jackson's publishers softened and obscured the polemical message of the novel and replaced it with a directive that encouraged readers to visit the home of Ramona herself; thus, readers become tourists who memorialize Native American culture by seeing the last vestiges of a nearly extinct culture while on vacation. These emendations encourage the novel to be read as the true story of an ancient, disappeared culture and the land that is now wholly American, to be conquered again by an intrepid reader.
The Early Publication History of Ramona
Ramona was initially serialized in the Christian Union between May and November 1884 and was first printed in book format later in [End Page 132] the same year by Roberts Brothers, a firm that historian Raymond L. Kilgour characterizes as having a "consistent selection of highly intellectual fare, and … an equally steadfast avoidance of anything cheaply popular" (2–3). Anticipating the popularity of Ramona, editor Thomas Niles ordered an initial run of three thousand copies and gave Jackson a $1,000 advance and a ten percent copyright holding as compensation for the novel (Kilgour 206). The novel was so popular that one reviewer claimed that Ramona sold 29,000 copies by 1886, while another asserted that 3,800,000 copies had been printed by 1916 (Weetwood 959; "By the Way" 926). Even if this number is exaggerated, that a number that large could be printed and believed speaks to the novel's immense popularity.
Early reviews of the novel call attention to the accessibility of its reform message. An 1885 Century Illustrated Fiction reviewer wrote that in Ramona Jackson "successfully welded together the aims of the novelist and of the reformer" ("Recent Fiction" 649). Particularly after Jackson's death, later essays and reviews of the novel claimed that the novel had actually fulfilled Jackson's stated mission. Among these is an 1890 Ballou's Monthly Magazine article, which echoes the language of Jackson's wish for her novel, noting that her "romance 'Ramona' has done for the American Indians what Mrs. Stowe has done for the slaves" ("Disguised Authors" 101). In 1889, Grace Adele Pierre compared the geneses of the two novels, writing that Stowe, seeing injustice, "dipped her pen in the reddest of her heart's blood and wrote—the result we hold as one of our nation's grandest possessions" (59). Similarly, Jackson was "imbued with an honest purpose" in writing, and together "no work of human genius … could ever have touched the universal heart as these two works have done" (59). These articles show that Ramona's protest message was legible to early readers.
After Niles's death, Roberts Brothers's catalog was sold to Little, Brown and Company, a move that had an important influence on the history of Ramona. A Little, Brown and Company history notes that Ramona was among the most desirable of the Roberts Brothers titles and was a fundamental part of the publisher's strategy for future growth as they quickly engineered a set of new editions that fundamentally changed the physical appearance of the novel and contained the first illustrations and first introductions to appear [End Page 133] with it (One Hundred 20). While the 1900 edition marks the most significant change toward packaging the novel as a travel narrative, even before that the reform message began to be diluted or minimized by paratext.
Edwards Roberts's Travel Narrative
A reader approaching Ramona in an edition published after 1886 likely—and almost certainly after 1900—would have seen at least one preface or afterword alongside the book. These texts generally deal with the landscape of California and focus on the beauty of the land or a search for the places that Jackson described in the novel. The first of these types of textual emendation to appear alongside Ramona is an 1886 San Francisco Chronicle article by Edwards Roberts, later added to the novel as an afterword. Roberts's article was among the first of many articles about the real Ramona and the home of Señora Moreno published in the ensuing decades. In adding this article to the novel, Roberts Brothers sanctioned reading the novel as the true history of a real people, exotic yet not remote, available for tourists to visit. This addition sets the stage for future travel-oriented introductions while driving and embracing the new phenomenon of Ramona travel and travel narratives.
Shortly after its first appearance in the Chronicle, Roberts's article began to be printed alongside the novel. It is always separately paginated, immediately after the text, and occurs often with two small, embedded illustrations. It was printed often throughout the era of 1886–1920 and was the most common textual addition. Roberts, a travel writer who published numerous books about the West, centers his article on a visit to the Camulos Ranch. In an 1888 letter to the editor of The Critic Roberts actually claims to be "the original discoverer of 'Camulos;' or rather, the first to find that it was the scene of H.H.'s story" (226). In his brief article Roberts examines locales that claim to be home to the "real" Ramona, undermining the humanity of the inhabitants by casting them as living embodiments of Jackson's characters rather than real people, making it seem possible for visitors to relive and reenact the scenes of the novel on their visits. Roberts's article is the first addition that focuses directly on the landscape of Southern California and highlights [End Page 134] the evolving strategies and goals of Jackson's publishers in relation to public perception of the novel.
Roberts advances a particularly strong enticement to travel to Ramona sites and relive the scenes of the book to his fellow countrymen back East. His article focuses solely on the Camulos Ranch, the purported inspiration for Ramona's home. He begins "Ramona's Home" by describing the way California would appear to an outsider. A tourist from the East first visiting the home region of Ramona "should ever after be a devoted admirer of the State" (1). He immediately emphasizes the natural beauty of California and that it is a place designed for tourists. He establishes credibility by using Jackson's imagery to describe the locales he visits: "Taking 'Ramona' in hand, one staying at Camulos can find almost every scene described" (6). He even experiences the rooms of the home as a part of the plot of the novel, writing, "Here, before the cool, shaded veranda on which I sit is the courtyard; here Felipe's room, and there Ramona's, and there the Señora's. … Where I am sitting old Juan Can used to lounge, with his legs stretched out before him, and his dog at his feet" (1). Roberts casts the ranch as a living embodiment of the novel's setting. Even when he does discuss the people who live at the ranch he does so to tie them back to the novel: "the property was bought by the husband of the present owner, who is constantly reminding one of the Señora Moreno" (2). By viewing the owners and occupants of the house only as living embodiments of fictional characters, Roberts is able to override their real identities as people displaced by his tourism or by the encroachment of white settlers while reshaping them into two-dimensional characters with fictional identities. The rancho and its inhabitants become almost a living museum dedicated to Jackson's book.
Roberts does not dwell on the Native Americans in the region, instead replacing Native culture with Christianity by focusing on the Franciscan edifice present at the ranch. He notes that crosses displayed at the chapel where Ramona worshipped "serve as notice to all passers-by that they were on the land of a good Catholic" (5). The two illustrations published with the text are of the chapel and the bells. Roberts highlights the religious aspects of the Spanish mission culture, aspects likely to be most familiar to readers. In doing [End Page 135]
[End Page 136] so he characterizes Southern California as a western, Christian land instead of a Native American one. By glorifying and describing the ranch and its Franciscan trappings he minimizes the importance and the reality of California's Native American heritage, and the position of his afterword at the end of the novel allows readers, as they leave the book, to do the same. With Roberts, readers can reminisce on the moments spent at the rancho and its beauty, forgetting about the injustice and suffering that happened around it. Roberts's claim that his article is the truth is perhaps even more dangerous, as it implies that even by 1886 the Indian population of the state had already been made invisible.
1900 Monterey Edition and Edition de Luxe
The 1900 edition of Ramona repackages the book in a dramatically different way, reframing the novel as a story of travel, not reform, through its use of illustrations, forewords, afterwords, and other paratexts. For the first time the text was divided into two volumes, and an introduction, illustrations, and an introduction to the illustrations were added. The expensive Monterey edition was at least partially aimed at the gift market, with a highly decorated binding and high-quality illustrations. The Monterey was the first of the named editions of the text, a tradition that Little, Brown and Company maintained with the later Pasadena and Traveler's editions. With these elegant editions and travel-oriented names, Little, Brown and Company reinforced growing conceptions of Ramona as a travelogue rather than a reform novel. The Monterey edition's new introductions and illustrations provide a deeper understanding of how Jackson's friends, colleagues, and publisher embraced and furthered the growing connection between Ramona and travel to the locales of California.
This edition marks a major change in the approach to marketing the novel, as Little, Brown and Company advertised the book more frequently and more prominently than it had been in the 1890s. The 1900 Monterey edition and the Edition de Luxe were the first titles listed in most of the 1900 ads, usually under the heading "New Publications" despite the text's sixteen years on the market. The price rose dramatically, from $1.50 in 1896 to $6 for the cloth Monterey [End Page 137] edition, $12 for the half-levant Monterey, and $15 for the Edition de Luxe in 1900. With this highly elaborate, expensive edition, Little, Brown and Company aimed to revitalize the selling of Ramona, adding new covers, introductions, and illustrations to capture reader interest and encourage owners of older, unillustrated Ramona editions to replace them with this new one. In doing so, they distracted from and undermined Jackson's political message and reinforced the connections between the novel and travel to California.
The Monterey edition was opened by two introductory texts, both of which claim to explain the real Jackson and real California to readers. The first, by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, under pen name Susan Coolidge, emphasizes Jackson's role as friend, wife, and mother over that of writer. The second, Henry Sandham's introduction to the illustrations, stresses the "truth" of Jackson's novel and the importance of his illustrations to understanding the text. Woolsey's and Sandham's introductions to the novel are, in Gerard Genette's terms, allographic prefaces, meaning that they have an author different from that of the novel with a goal of promoting and guiding a particular reading of the novel (265). This kind of preface also has the unique function of providing information about the text and author from an outside perspective (265). Sandham and Woolsey embrace both of these functions by advertising the continuing import of reading Jackson's novel even sixteen years after it was written and highlighting important details of Jackson's life for readers.
In their introductions, Woolsey and Sandham foreground their own messages about the goals and values of the novel. Genette notes that prefaces written after the author's death can have a tendency to express the political message of the preface writer, who
takes advantage of the circumstances to go somewhat beyond the supposed subject of his discourse and argue in support of a cause that is broader or possibly wholly different. The prefaced work then becomes simply the pretext for a manifesto, a confidence, a settling of accounts, a digression.(271)
Woolsey and Sandham, however, use their introductions not to promote a political agenda but as their own personal manifestos about [End Page 138] the import of Ramona as a travel story. Based on authority gained as a friend or colleague of Jackson's during her California travels, Woolsey and Sandham attempt to reframe the reading of the novel, focusing strongly on Jackson's descriptions of the evolving and developing landscape of California, which had greatly changed since the first appearance of the novel. These descriptions build on the travel narratives appearing in various periodicals, both addressing contemporary public interest in the novel while also confirming these interests as central to understanding the meaning of the text.
In Woolsey's introduction she stresses the person of Jackson alongside travel, mentioning reform only to diminish it as a secondary concern of the novel. Woolsey's very authority to write the new introduction to the novel, she claims, comes from the personal relationship with Jackson that she stresses throughout, begun in the 1850s (x). To be fair, Woolsey, who was also present for Jackson's first trip to California, does introduce readers to Jackson's interest in Indian reform, discussing her writing of A Century of Dishonor. Woolsey acknowledges the reform goals of the text, calling it "the strongest arraignment of the United States Government for its cruel and faithless dealings with the Indian tribes that has ever been made" (xx). Because of Century, Jackson was enlisted, along with Abbott Kinney, to write a report on the condition of Mission Indians in California. This report, Woolsey tells the reader, "appeared in July, 1883, and was—presumably—promptly pigeon-holed and forgotten" (xx). Jackson's efforts at nonfiction and government writing were failures in creating social change.
Throughout her text, Woolsey casts the novel as an artistic picture of the picturesque West, captured perfectly during Jackson's Century trip. Woolsey notes that Ramona's truth is based on the truth of "Indian wrongs and spoliations" that Jackson experienced in Temecula, a land that "was pre-empted as wild land and seized upon by white settlers, its owners being turned out homeless and helpless into the wilderness" shortly before her visit (xxi). Woolsey notes that Jackson personally experienced "many of the incidents of the story" and that certain scenes, particularly Alessandro's shooting, are "cop[ied] after life" (xxi). Yet what strikes Woolsey as the most enduring part of Ramona is the natural beauty that Jackson [End Page 139] accurately and artistically captures, noting that the novel "is a series of pictures" (xxii). In this statement Woolsey makes clear what she sees as the enduring message of the novel: not the suffering of the Native Americans that Jackson captures in the destruction of both Alessandro and his village but the images of the California countryside and the positive images of Catholicism, Franciscans, and the mission system, images that Davis and Delyser argue influenced early California mythmaking. Woolsey spends the next three pages quoting extensively from the novel, highlighting the beauty of the land, the beauty of Ramona, and the elegance and intelligence of Father Salvierderra. While Woolsey acknowledges the root issues of the novel, she does not deal with them in any significant detail and she instead forwards a message about the novel as a "picture" of the West instead of as a political discourse. This undercuts Jackson's message for a new reader, who, in 1900, with the opening of Oklahoma territory to white settlement and few recent battles between Natives and the United States, might more easily see the Native American issue in the United States as solved or at least in the past than an original reader of 1884 would. Her message about the brutality present in America's way of dealing with Native populations is lost under Woolsey's focus on images, like that of the sun shining into Ramona's hair. In her stress on setting over reform, Woolsey confirms Ramona's growing status as a travel narrative and reinforces it, encouraging more readers to visit California by outlining the many natural wonders and man-made developments that attract and entertain visitors.
Perhaps the most striking part of Woolsey's introduction is the way she describes the development of California in the years since her visit with Jackson. Here, she implies that California, by 1900, has become fully Americanized. She calls the California of her 1872 visit with Jackson a place "in its infancy," suggesting that the white, Americanized California is the true California, confirming the notion of Ramona as an origin story for the state (xvi). She also suggests that the colonizing mission of the novel and the California settlers is nearly complete, highlighting the developments made since that time, when [End Page 140]
many of the resorts to which travellers now flock were not even begun. There was no University of California in those days, no Leland Stanford, no Lick Observatory. San Diego and Coronado Beach were not thought of. Los Angeles was but a shabby village, Santa Barbara little better. … But the Yo Semite and the Big Tree groves were as wonderful, Lake Tahoe and the Sierras as beautiful, then as now.(xvi)
The landmarks of California, for Woolsey, are as much the places that are created by American settlers as the objects of natural beauty in the state. She highlights the huge changes in the culture of the state by ignoring the missions, reservations, and Native American villages that were important to Jackson, instead focusing on the universities and developed cities that the Americans created for themselves once they'd conquered the land and the Native people who lived on it. The natural places she mentions are those that stay the same. Destruction of villages and peoples goes unmentioned. Ramona is associated not with the reform of A Century of Dishonor but with travel.
Woolsey's introduction is followed by that of Henry Sandham, the first illustrator of the novel. Sandham's path to becoming the illustrator of Ramona began in 1882, shortly after Sandham, born in Montreal in 1842, moved to Boston to work for Century Magazine. It was on assignment for Century Magazine that Sandham met Jackson, as the two were hired to write and illustrate a series of articles about their experiences touring Southern California. These articles were later collected and published as Glimpses of Three Coasts and Glimpses of California and the Missions. For Century, Sandham illustrated numerous travel articles and, according to Carlyle Channing Davis and William Alderson, it was Sandham's particular talent for landscape art that made Century select him to accompany Jackson (234).
Sandham's introduction is heavily invested in making himself an insider to the novel. He attempts to portray himself as the least allographic of the preface writers by emphasizing himself as the authority on this text and his view of it as authoritative. He claims insider status by telling readers that "Mrs. Jackson so graciously designated [Ramona] as 'our book'" (xxxi). He seems to agree with [End Page 141]
this sentiment, noting that while his illustrations were not originally published with the text, they were always intended to be, and the seventeen years it took to finish the illustrations did not diminish their import (xxxi). Sandham's illustrations are, by his account, as necessary a piece of the novel as any part of the plot. By telling the reader that Jackson herself believed in the fundamental importance of his illustrations, Sandham argues that his ideas, images, and point of view are fundamental to understanding the text. Jackson's involvement in the selection of illustrations emphasizes this, as Sandham states that "Mrs. Jackson [was] close at hand suggesting emphasis to this object or prominence to that, as it was to have special mention in the book" (xxxi). By highlighting his close working relationship with Jackson, Sandham uses her authorial authority to justify the specific scenes of his illustrations: "The illustrations may, then, have this claim to a share of the reader's attention: they, at least, faithfully represent the scenes and objects as [End Page 142] they were actually seen by Mrs. Jackson at the time of the inception of the book" (xxxii). A reader is sure to know that Jackson not only authorized him to make illustrations but to make these particular illustrations, that the moments he captures in the illustrations are the most important parts of the novel according to her, and that the reader, by looking at these illustrations, is taken back to Jackson's own experiences of California in a way that is only possible through his illustrated edition of Ramona.
Sandham claims that the illustrations have a particular ability to transport a reader. They are the only extant record of Jackson's California, which has now been demolished. He notes that the illustrations represent the locales of California "before the hand of the preserver had destroyed their poetic value" (xxxii). The majority of his illustrations, unsurprisingly, focus on images of decay and ruin, largely of buildings in states of disrepair, as shown in the header of chapter 3, an illustration of the San Carlos Mission that highlights [End Page 143] its crumbling roof. Sandham wants readers to believe that his memories and illustrations are more real than what actually existed in 1900 California, and, as such, have more value as true relics of a civilization that, like its buildings and its cultural artifacts, is now totally destroyed.
He makes careful mention of one illustration that shows the original appearance of California. The chapter 13 heading depicts the Our Lady Angels Mission in Los Angeles, a worn building in front of a dirt road, with columns along the outside and an uneven, wooden beam roof. Sandham notes that any 1900 reader will
remember the inside pillars of the corridor as neat and trim in a nice coat of plaster, one way doubtless of aiding in their preservation, but at the unhappy cost of utterly destroying that feeling of picturesque ruin and age, the very quality that appealed most strongly to the poetic nature of the gifted author, and which really formed the basis of the inspiration of her work.(xxxii)
Sandham's description of California missions portrays them as a dying breed even before Jackson's novel is published. Even worse, they are untenable in their current state; they must be restored and renewed with new methods just as California must be renewed and reshaped with American settlers. Like Woolsey, Sandham's introduction implicitly confirms that California is a conquered place. Ramona's cause is already finished and her people lost. The only part of the novel still recoverable for a reader is the beauty of California.
Sandham characterizes the text as a whole truth, a retelling of their journey and the people they encountered, almost a guide for the reader to find what still remains of Jackson's vision. He claims, "all the dramatic incidents of the story were familiar to me long before I saw the book, as they are either literal descriptions of events which took place in the course of our travels, or they are recollections of anecdotes told when I, as well as Mrs. Jackson, was among the groups of listeners" (xxxii). His illustrations are similarly bound in truth, with "no need to employ 'artistic license'" (xxxii). Combining the novel, a true portrait of a historical version of California, with Sandham's illustrations, which are the only true depiction of the historical California of Jackson's novel, makes the Monterey [End Page 144] edition a necessary guidebook purchase for anyone dreaming of Ramona-inspired travel.
The Monterey edition arrived in a holiday marketplace full of newly illustrated editions of old texts. In a December 1900 article for The Independent, Sophia Antoinette Walker argues that that holiday season featured unprecedented publication of illustrated art books, noting that there was a particular glut of texts that had already "won [their] spurs" just now receiving illustrated editions (2984). Neil Harris argues that in this time period many cultural authorities feared illustration's potential "artistic carelessness" could "endange[r] individual thought," as it holds the power to shape and control the way a reader saw a character, a landscape, and the text of a book and even had the power to overwhelm the author's own text (7). Harris cites a 1900 article from the New York Times Saturday Review of Books that argues that illustrations, even those following lengthy descriptions of scenes and characters given by authors like Charles Dickens, were "useless, 'if not absurd,'" continuing, "should our ideals, formed under the guidance of a master hand, be crushed or perverted by the conception of another?" (7). Repackaging Ramona with new illustrations did not simply encourage fans of the book to buy another copy of the novel. It also presented a new form of visual guidance to help the reader to see the message that both Sandham and Little, Brown and Company wanted to promote. The success of this message is evident in tourist maps from the era, like one published in November 1905 in The Interior that lists Camulos Ranch as the first stop along "The Road of a Thousand Wonders" stretching between Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
Sandham's illustrations, combined with his claim that each image was created under the ultimate authority of Jackson, guided readers to focus on the geography of California. His illustrations in the Monterey edition focus heavily on the landscape of Southern California over the characters. The chapter headings, in particular, focus on the small details of the novel, particularly the "feeling of picturesque ruin and age" that Sandham discusses in his introduction (xxxii). These images, mostly of decaying churches and missions, and details, like close-ups of lace, altar cloths, and Indian baskets, have an anthropological feel to them. Sandham's illustration [End Page 145]
[End Page 146] of the San Carlos Mission in Monterey, the heading from chapter 3, contains highlights typical of the sort of decay seen throughout. The thatching on the roof is missing in parts and has several holes in it. The walls of the building are crumbling. These images reinforce the idea of the Native Americans of the text already being a long-disappeared culture with buildings left in ruins. Along with his preface, Sandham's images of decay, ruin, and his anthropological accounts of baskets and lace cast the story as a romance of people long gone in an exotic and beautiful place ripe for visiting.
In his illustrations, Sandham's focus on landscape, decay, and detail emphasize his stated argument that he was the only one who had seen California the way that Jackson had, "before the hand of the preserver had destroyed their poetic value" (xxxii). In this way, Sandham becomes the only authority on Jackson's California and Ramona's origins. His emphasis on recording anthropology over illustrating characters leaves a reader feeling as if what is important about the novel is this recapturing, not the impetus for reform. Instead of aiding Jackson to seek change for Ramona's people, Sand-ham's focus undermines her message and instead champions his own agenda. With the Monterey edition, Little, Brown and Company increasingly promoted the novel as a description of an early, romantic California already destroyed and mythologized. The association between travel, geography, and the novel only intensified with future editions of Ramona.
1913 Traveler's Edition
The 1913 Traveler's edition represents a culmination of the changes made by Little, Brown and Company. From the very name of this edition, printed on the first page of the book, the packaging made clear how connected the novel was to Southern California. Explicitly made for the traveler, this edition innovated greatly from the previous Monterey and Pasadena editions, maintaining only the naming style and Sandham's chapter headings and adding photographs and a new introduction by photographer A. C. Vroman. With this edition, Little, Brown and Company explicitly positioned the novel as a guide to California travel. Vroman's travelogue and photographs provide a new concrete image of the sites that a Ramona [End Page 147] traveler could visit, offering a full catalog of the sites as well as a guide to interacting with the residents of the ranchos that claimed to be Ramona's home. Ads for the volume, including one appearing in The Dial in 1914, note that the book was "illustrated by twenty-four full-page halftones taken from photographs, to aid the traveler searching for the historical sites of the story" ("New Holiday" 447). The Traveler's edition is fully focused on promoting and guiding travelers as they visited Southern California.
The Traveler's edition uses a narrative image for the cover that could be a picture of Señora Moreno's home. The viewer of this cover looks through a set of Roman-style arches with pillars separating them onto an open hacienda terrace. Small bushes and plants dot the outside of the mission building, and the blue sky is in the background. It actually looks strikingly similar to one of A. C. Vroman's photographs of the supposed "real" Moreno home included in the volume, adding only decorative arches and columns. Instead of encouraging readers to understand the novel with the reform message intended, this edition encourages readers to embrace Vroman's search for the real people and places of this story. The cover art, introduction, and photographs inside are unified in providing a concrete image of what California actually looked like for travelers of the era. The packaging makes the physical book more than just a novel.
Vroman's introduction, originally published as a pamphlet, is primarily concerned with mapping the novel's fictional geography onto the actual extant geography of California, with a stated goal of clearing confusion about which so-called Ramona sites were the real ones. He aimed to explain how Jackson chose these sites and to explain the discrepancies between Jackson's text and reality. He uses lines from the novel, Jackson's biography, and local geography to establish Rancho Camulos as the home of Ramona, although he believed that Rancho Guajome must have inspired some elements of it. His story begins at Rancho Guajome where, he says, Jackson found inspiration for Señora Moreno, asking his reader, "Who that has talked with the Señora Coutts but has thought, 'Is not this the Señora Moreno herself?'" (viii). Señora Coutts, he argues, has the "haughty and proud … characteristics that we see in Señora Moreno," [End Page 148] making Rancho Guajome the genesis site for Ramona's characters, even if it is not her home (viii–ix).
Vroman claims that many parts of the novel hint that Jackson wanted to use Guajome ranch as the setting, including her description of the sheep shearing station (which does not exist at Rancho Camulos) and the journey that Alessandro and Ramona take after they leave the ranch. The description of this journey, which takes them from Ramona's home to San Diego, he argues, "is identical with the country between Guajome and San Diego by way of the Temecula Cañon" (xii). In the novel, this journey takes place in three nights, with the pair hiding in the canyon during the day. Alessandro and Ramona, if they left from Guajome ranch, would have had fifty miles to traverse, but from Camulos, the journey would have been over two hundred, making Guajome a more likely candidate (xii). Other geographical markers suggest that Guajome ranch might have been a more accurate physical location of the novel. From this, Vroman conjectures that "these and like instances are explained on the theory that the story was planned to be located at the Guajome ranch, and possibly portions of the book already written when the difference arose" (xii). Vroman's detailed search for the exact real-world placement of Ramona's home leads him to the conclusion that different portions of the text were written about different places, with real-world reasons to explain why she made these choices.
Because Jackson's descriptions of Rancho Camulos are not identical to the real ranch, Vroman must explain why and how Jackson makes these "errors." He notes that when she visited Rancho Camulos, Jackson "found the family absent, the servants only being about the house; in haste to return to Los Angeles, they [Jackson and her entourage] spent but two hours on the ranch, and never before or afterward did Mrs. Jackson see Rancho Camulos" (x). He gives credit to Jackson for her memory: "That Mrs. Jackson could in two short hours picture in her memory that which she later did in words so accurately, describing the entire surroundings so minutely, is marvelous, and illustrative of her great descriptive power. She had her story ready for the setting, and this she found in this beautiful old Spanish home" (x). Vroman's praise for Jackson's memory [End Page 149] enables him to excuse the small discrepancies between Jackson's novel and the ranch, the most major of which is a misstatement of the number of stairs to the western rooms. Jackson says that the rooms are four steps higher than the rest of the house, while at the Camulos, one room is five, the other eight (x). These minor discrepancies hardly seem to need to be explained, but Vroman's focus on explaining Camulos's exact dimensions in relation to Jackson's story make it necessary. He, like Sandham, has recast Jackson into a chronicler, a scribe who simply writes what she sees, instead of casting her as an artist capable of using several people, places, and stories woven together to create her narrative. Vroman's obsession with finding the truth down to every detail highlights a desire to wholly remove artistic license from Jackson's text. It is not a novel that came from artistry and a reform message but instead a simple chronicle of the people Jackson met, the stories told to her, and the places she visited.
Vroman addresses travelers to Ramona sites, giving instruction on how a visitor to them should act. His guidelines for proper tourist etiquette highlights how clearly Ramona has come to be marketed specifically for travelers. He argues that in recent years the Camulos has become so besieged with visitors that the family served "more than eight hundred meals" to visitors in nine months and that, for the owners, "it would be a great relief to them if some other place could take the honor of the 'Home of Ramona'" (xv). Visitors "wound [the inhabitants'] sensitive feelings," as they are so "thoughtless, or ignorant, [that they] almost demand to see Ramona and Felipe'" (xvi). He reminds visitors that "we are on private, not public, property; that we owe it to the many yet to follow us that we do our part well" (xvi). Ensuring that these sites and the residents exist for future visitors is of utmost importance for him.
His argument does not discourage tourism and instead encourages preservation of both the Camulos and the Guajome ranches, arguing that they "should be cared for at the public expense, first for their historical value, and if not for this, then for financial reasons as an attraction to the traveling public" (xviii). Vroman's introduction encourages the continued transformation of Ramona sites into landmarks and public spaces, removing them from the control [End Page 150] of the families who have owned them for generations. Just as Vroman encouraged, both the Rancho Camulos and Rancho Guajome are still operating as historic house museums and are on the National Register of Historic Places. In his pamphlet he does not focus on what was lost when white Americans entered the land but on what could be lost if white Americans are impolite guests when visiting the remnants of this lost culture, erasing the impact of white expansion on Ramona's people and the extant culture in Southern California. Since the novel's first publication, the residents have been transformed first into characters from it and then into museum exhibits. When reprinted as the introduction to the novel, Vroman's words solidify Ramona's place as a guidebook to an ancient land and disappeared culture. By ignoring Ramona's people he encourages readers to think of them as simply gone, extinct with no mention of how they came to be that way. Instead, Vroman focuses on preserving the ranchos and missions that gave rise to the growing mythology of California's past.
Instead of supporting Jackson's stated purpose, Vroman's work further undermines it and defines Ramona as a story of travel and exploration even more so than the earlier paratexts. This edition, with his introduction, photographs, a cover that mirrors the interior photos, and the name Traveler's Edition, has the effect of overwhelming a reader's senses with messages of travel and truth, completely silencing any issues of reform that a reader might find in the text. Instead, Vroman asks readers to think of Ramona not as a novel that, in conjunction with A Century of Dishonor, might encourage readers to take action on issues facing Native Americans but as a reason to travel to Southern California and as a guide to the ways of the past.
Effects of the Paratexts on Reading Ramona
The many and varied paratexts create a different Ramona than the one Jackson claimed to want. While early reviewers could find connections between Uncle Tom's Cabin's political reform message and Ramona's, this connection seems to disappear before reappearing in the critical literature of the 1980s and 1990s, where the language of Jackson's wish is used to describe her failure. But this failure is [End Page 151] not entirely Jackson's fault. While Jackson's writing certainly influenced public response to the novel, her publisher's choices in describing Jackson, choosing cover artists, and selecting illustrations and introductions combine to create a product that silences reform impulses and instead promotes interest in travel, authenticity, and romance. Moylan argues that the inclusion of these paratexts by the publisher influenced Jackson's readers "by supplementing the original story with all the sociological and geographical verification they could muster. As with Uncle Tom's Cabin, Ramona's value as social didacticism increased when readers could feel confident that they were reading a 'true' portrayal of Indians and their living conditions" (228). Despite the novel's wide readership, Ramona did not lead to large-scale reform movements or acknowledgments of the injustices done against Native Americans, in California and elsewhere, and the novel never became a touchstone for change. Instead, these additional texts' focus on travel and romance seems to have been what enraptured readers as the novel lost its early designation of having been an Uncle Tom's Cabin for Native Americans. Indeed, any reform impulse inspired by the novel failed to endure and Ramona never became associated with a reform movement. The novel's true lasting effect was not a successful plea for Native American rights and self-determination but a beginning of California's tourism industry.
The novel's political message is fundamentally changed by the very existence of these inspired travel destinations that undermine the seriousness of Ramona's plight, transforming the novel from a political one to a colonizing text promoting further exploitation and settlement. These locales quickly lose their status as sites of tragedy, becoming instead sites that "no tourist will fail to visit" (Delyser 99). Delyser, outlining the various travel destinations of the text, notes that Ramona's Marriage Place, the only site built during California's Spanish colonial period, was particularly damaged by the tourist drive. Renovations of the Estudillo adobe began in 1908 and were meant to "convey an antimodern appearance of picturesque age, decay, and obsolescence" (103). Delyser concludes that the architect, using only Mexican and Indian workers and methods and aging all elements to create a faux-antique look for [End Page 152] the building, "set out to construct not a reconstructed Californio adobe, but a romanticized and commercialized tourist attraction" (105). Like the paratexts, the managers and architects of this Ramona history site blur the line between fantasy and reality, creating an image of the past that never existed.
Ramona itself becomes an active part of reframing California history and the romanticization of the missions. Kate Phillips argues that for many white readers of the novel, its "unique romantic legend" afforded "American newcomers to California with a ready-made, usable past, one with which they could more easily identify than with the region's actual history of Native American tenure and still troubled colonial occupation" (275). The novel comes to be used as a way of forgetting the atrocity committed against the Native Americans Jackson championed rather than a touchstone for change. The sites of Ramona's life are similarly reshaped by readers and visitors. The Estudillo adobe is not just the site where Ramona and Alessandro married but is also a place where visitors can buy books and other souvenirs and have these objects stamped to prove to friends back home that the possessor was well traveled.1
A site of trauma is transformed into a site of celebration and consumption, just as California is transformed from a state founded on depravity to one with a romantic mission past. [End Page 153]
The novel's transformation and growing association with travel is reflected in the way readers came to engage with it, including having it stamped at sites like Ramona's Marriage Place, as the owner of the 1920 Pasadena edition shown in figure 5 did. For Ramona visitors, locals began to invent new places that Ramona may have visited, like a set of bells near Ramona's Marriage Place that are claimed to have been played after Ramona married Alessandro, despite the fact that there is no mention of bells in the text. Another reader modified her 1894 edition with later articles about the geography of the story, pasting in an article from around 1899, the year of Señora Coutts's death. This same reader also pasted into this copy another travel article, a review of George Wharton James's Through Ramona's Country (1909), showing a continued and sustained engagement by a reader to connect the novel, travel, and the geography of Southern California, as even early editions could be transformed into travel guides.
Ramona's travel legacy enabled it to be used to sell a number of travel books about her real home, real life story, and Jackson's real inspirations, including James's book, Edwin Clough's Ramona's Marriage Place (1910), and Davis and Alderson's The True Story of Ramona: Its Facts and Fictions, Inspiration and Purpose (1914). Beyond the literary marketplace, Ramona's name was used to sell products as diverse as matchbook covers, produce, perfume, and olive oil (Delyser 111, 82, 171, 187). The tourist and capitalist traditions that emerged further undermined the political message of the novel, making social change that much more difficult. The continued growth of tourism and capitalist markets years after the novel was first published, alongside the new look of the novel that helped readers to interact with these markets, pushed public thought further and further away from Jackson's stated goals. In concert with Jackson's own failings as a writer, the very packaging of the editions became a fundamental part of a trend of objects and texts that allowed readers to forget that this novel once had a truly political goal. [End Page 154]
KIMBERLY E. ARMSTRONG is a professor of English at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska. She received her PhD from the University of Connecticut-Storrs. She is currently working on a book about the way women writers navigated and manipulated the late nineteenth-century marketplace, tentatively titled "A Woman of Letters as a Woman of Business." Her research is primarily concerned with book history, women's writing, and nineteenth-century American literature.
1. Visitors to Ramona's Marriage Site purchased such diverse objects as "the tiles of the roof, the tiles of the floors, the adobe of the walls, the fragments of beams and woodwork, the locks of the doors, and metal furniture of the great fireplace" before restorations began (Clough). Edwin Clough chastises Salvador Estudillo, then the owner of the home, for his "mercenary vandalism" at selling off the history of the house and, in doing so, encourages souvenir-seekers to buy books, like his "Ramona's Marriage Place": The House of Estudillo, instead.