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  • L. M. Montgomery Censored?Canadian War Commentary in Rilla of Ingleside Adapted for Nordic Audiences
  • Laura Leden (bio)

Rilla of Ingleside (1921), a novel about heroism and womanhood, and the final book in L. M. Montgomery's (1874–1942) Anne of Green Gables series (1908–21),1 is known as the only novel by a woman about the Canadian home front during the First World War that has retained a readership until today (Epperly 112; McKenzie 86). In Rilla of Ingleside, Montgomery incorporates two crucial messages about the First World War: she describes women as heroes on the home front comparable to the heroic men at the front and advocates the righteousness of the Great War from a patriotic Canadian perspective.

In recent years, Rilla of Ingleside has been a popular topic in Montgomery studies, not least at the L. M. Montgomery and War conference in 2014, commemorating the beginning of the First World War. In 2010, a new, complete special edition was published with background material and a thorough introduction by the Montgomery scholars Benjamin Lefebvre and Andrea McKenzie on the significance of the book, and in 2016, Montgomery's original manuscript showing her revisions was published edited by Elizabeth and Kate Waterston.

This article discusses how the war and gender-related messages have been adapted and even censored in Nordic translations of the book by changing how different nationalities are referred to and by minimizing the role of an important female character, Susan Baker, the maid of the protagonist's family. Three considerations drive these adaptations: the tense political situations of the countries in which the books were translated, the availability of already-translated source texts other than the original Canadian manuscript, and a restrictive understanding of children's literature as "innocent" material for younger audiences that should be expurgated of [End Page 143] "adult" issues. Examining how war is reflected in these translations reveals how political history and the time of translation affect each version of the book published in different Nordic countries. The translations give the reader information about the time and place in which the novel was set, the time and place in which the novel was originally composed, and the time and place from (and for) which the translator is adapting the text.

To date, translations of Rilla of Ingleside (1921) have been published in four Nordic countries: Sweden (1928), Norway (1959), Finland (1962), and Denmark (1993).2 In addition to these Nordic translations, I will discuss the German translation (1995–96) for comparison, because of the adaptations relating to Germany and Germans made in the three early Nordic translations and because of Germany's close geographical and cultural ties to the Nordic countries. Major adaptation occurs only in the three oldest translations. The slightly abridged, politically almost neutral Swedish translation introduced Rilla of Ingleside to the Nordic countries and served as a source text for the two other early translations. The Norwegian translation abridges the Swedish translation and thus does not reflect Norwegian post-Second World War anti-German sentiment, while the Finnish translation can be considered an adapted version of the Swedish translation influenced by Finland's political history and the pacifist movement of the 1960s resulting in a reduced emphasis on nationality.

In all three early translations, the adaptation of war-related elements is closely connected to diminishment of the character of Susan, and with it, her female heroism. Montgomery uses Susan as the most vocal descriptor of the war: she either articulates or participates in all of the crucial discussions about the war in Europe and its impact on the local community. Consequently, the translations that omit or alter Susan's part in the narrative clearly reflect the translator's or publisher's opinions about the war and about female characters. Therefore, the analysis of translations of Rilla of Ingleside in this article will focus on how they manage Susan's commentary on the war.3 With more distance from the world wars and the rise of feminist thought, modern translators are free to break from earlier constraints and translate Montgomery's text more explicitly as a Canadian wartime story. The more recent Danish and German translations make hardly any...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6563
Print ISSN
0147-2593
Pages
pp. 143-166
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-17
Open Access
No
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