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Old Today, 02:17 PM   #91
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It occurs to me to wonder at Matthewís and Marillaís motivations in adopting a boy. The putative reason, of course, was that the typical French hired hand wasnít reliable, with implications of being both not hard working and also, presumably, willing to walk away. Whereas I have to assume that an adopted boy would be both cheaper (food and clothing only and you know that heíd have had to miss school during spring planting and harvest time), but also more ďtied,Ē with the perhaps even explicit threat of being sent back if he didnít shape up. The implications are worse than they appeared to me at first.
Do they ever hire a hand after they decide to keep Anne? I don't remember. Anne herself doesn't seem to have much work to do on the farm, so I guess Matthew and Marilla didn't need as much help as they thought.
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Old Today, 02:25 PM   #92
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Do they ever hire a hand after they decide to keep Anne? I don't remember. Anne herself doesn't seem to have much work to do on the farm, so I guess Matthew and Marilla didn't need as much help as they thought.
I remember a couple of references and there may have been more.

When Matthew’s trying to talk Marilla into keeping Anne, he says that he’d told Jerry Buote that he’d hire him. And when Matthew comes home from the Carmody store with brown sugar, Marilla says that she only uses brown sugar for fruit cake and the hired man’s porridge and Jerry was gone (presumably because it’s December).
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Old Today, 02:31 PM   #93
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A bit of background on my history with Anne. First, growing up as a boy in the mid-20th century, in the U.S., I didn't read "girl stuff", and I clearly equated Anne of Green Gables as quintessentially girl stuff. Not of interest, and if I ever read it, I have no memory of it. This in spite of the fact that I read a LOT of books as a kid, including Little Women and all the follow-ons.

So when, as a older adult I moved to Canada, I tried to read Anne just after we got here, figuring it was something I should know more about. Didn't work, and I abandoned it very early on.

When we chose Anne for the club, I was of two minds. I still felt that I needed to read it, but I had a (fairly) recent memory of trying, and failing. However, I voted for it because I figured the club would push me to actually finish it. And not only did I finish it, but I completely enjoyed it. And I begin to understand the role it plays in the Canadian consciousness. (And not inconsequentially, why I failed that first time.)

Canadians have a self-image as polite, positive, and supportive of those who need support. We pride ourselves on pulling together to help those who've had a rough break, and we are especially proud of our role over the years as keystones in the UN Peacekeeping forces around the world.
Spoiler:
(And I'll skip my opinions of how we've failed in that under >10 years of Conservative Party rule as being more appropriate for P&R.)
I would argue that a great deal of that self-image is inextricably entwined with Anne. She's hard working, a bit of a dreamer, and always sees the best in people.

I could go on, but I'd prefer to avoid too many TL,DRs.
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Old Today, 02:36 PM   #94
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The background on what adoption was like is an area where I have been intentionally ignorant. The hints about what could have been, and what had been for Anne with her foster parent's/guardians, were bad enough. I'm sure it would be interesting in a morbid and educational way but when reading an old favorite like this, I don't really want to delve too deep into parts of it. This re-read and discussion has already taken more of the luster off the book than I expected going into it.
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Yeah, I know what you mean. I don't normally participate in the book clubs but came into this thread because of my memories of reading the Anne series. I probably should have stayed out of here and just continued to remember it fondly.
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These comments illustrate why I would never nominate a book that I loved unreservedly as a child. I can and do reread childhood favorites, and I can see flaws in them with adult eyes, but I love them anyway and don't want to lay them open to criticism or have to defend them.
I have to admit that Iím good either way. If an old favorite doesnít live up to my memory but there are interesting things to discuss about it, itís a different kind of fun. Some old favorites are impermeable to criticism; I think I even said something upthread about reading them with dual eyes, which is double the fun. Love does not alter. The Scarlet Pimpernel was an example of the second.

Iíll tell a story about myself. I have a nephew in his mid-20s with whom I read the Harry Potter books as they came out; we enjoyed them mightily and discussed them at length. But he told me that he was rereading them with his friends and he was pointing out all the flaws, inconsistencies, discontinuities and so forth that he and I delighted in identifying back when he was a kid and his friends were furious with him.
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Old Today, 06:34 PM   #95
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These days I do a lot of re-reading, and it highlights some things, like: memory is fallible; we change; all books have faults; sometimes the faults don't matter. All simple and obvious lessons, but nothing drives them home so well as experiencing them.

And sometimes the faults do matter. Sometimes understanding what we missed earlier is part of our own development, or as noted above, just part of understanding that we have developed; I'm not the same person I was 30 and 40 years ago, and this is a good thing. There was so much (good and bad) then that I didn't recognise back then and there was a lot that I read that I just sort of took on faith.

In these discussions we get to see books through the eyes of others, and with the help of others get a more complete historical and social background. What we learn may change us, and may change how we introduce the books to coming generations. Not that we would censor the books, but we might make extra effort to share the expanded context.
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Old Today, 07:00 PM   #96
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These days I do a lot of re-reading, and it highlights some things, like: memory is fallible; we change; all books have faults; sometimes the faults don't matter. All simple and obvious lessons, but nothing drives them home so well as experiencing them.

And sometimes the faults do matter. Sometimes understanding what we missed earlier is part of our own development, or as noted above, just part of understanding that we have developed; I'm not the same person I was 30 and 40 years ago, and this is a good thing. There was so much (good and bad) then that I didn't recognise back then and there was a lot that I read that I just sort of took on faith.

In these discussions we get to see books through the eyes of others, and with the help of others get a more complete historical and social background. What we learn may change us, and may change how we introduce the books to coming generations. Not that we would censor the books, but we might make extra effort to share the expanded context.
Oh, I love this. So much so that I need to think before I respond, but I wanted to give it a hearty affirmation.
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Old Today, 07:16 PM   #97
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These days I do a lot of re-reading, and it highlights some things, like: memory is fallible; we change; all books have faults; sometimes the faults don't matter. All simple and obvious lessons, but nothing drives them home so well as experiencing them.

And sometimes the faults do matter. Sometimes understanding what we missed earlier is part of our own development, or as noted above, just part of understanding that we have developed; I'm not the same person I was 30 and 40 years ago, and this is a good thing. There was so much (good and bad) then that I didn't recognise back then and there was a lot that I read that I just sort of took on faith.

In these discussions we get to see books through the eyes of others, and with the help of others get a more complete historical and social background. What we learn may change us, and may change how we introduce the books to coming generations. Not that we would censor the books, but we might make extra effort to share the expanded context.
One thing that I see very differently today than I would have in my youth is the behaviour of the teacher, Mr. Phillips, towards Prissy Andrews. With our modern sensibilities, that read like a thoroughly unhealthy relationship. It probably did at the time of the writing, but I doubt I would have picked up on it as a young reader.
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Old Today, 07:27 PM   #98
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A bit of background on my history with Anne. First, growing up as a boy in the mid-20th century, in the U.S., I didn't read "girl stuff", and I clearly equated Anne of Green Gables as quintessentially girl stuff. Not of interest, and if I ever read it, I have no memory of it. This in spite of the fact that I read a LOT of books as a kid, including Little Women and all the follow-ons.

So when, as a older adult I moved to Canada, I tried to read Anne just after we got here, figuring it was something I should know more about. Didn't work, and I abandoned it very early on.

When we chose Anne for the club, I was of two minds. I still felt that I needed to read it, but I had a (fairly) recent memory of trying, and failing. However, I voted for it because I figured the club would push me to actually finish it. And not only did I finish it, but I completely enjoyed it. And I begin to understand the role it plays in the Canadian consciousness. (And not inconsequentially, why I failed that first time.)

Canadians have a self-image as polite, positive, and supportive of those who need support. We pride ourselves on pulling together to help those who've had a rough break, and we are especially proud of our role over the years as keystones in the UN Peacekeeping forces around the world.
Spoiler:
(And I'll skip my opinions of how we've failed in that under >10 years of Conservative Party rule as being more appropriate for P&R.)
I would argue that a great deal of that self-image is inextricably entwined with Anne. She's hard working, a bit of a dreamer, and always sees the best in people.

I could go on, but I'd prefer to avoid too many TL,DRs.
Iím glad you liked it! Welcome to the country . Seriously, I do agree with this. Itís part of the Canadian identity - even M Atwood couldnít completely destroy it in her review.

In terms of reading old favourites, my views have changed overtime. When I was young, I loved reading! And I was probably naive and took things on faith as well.

Later, in English Lit in college we were taught to scrutinize every author and book. I learned structural analysis though my studies in sociology & social work. Semiotics were in vogue, so nothing escaped. Throw in a feminist and political lens, and it didnít add up to a very happy reading life.

As an old gal, I still have the ability to deconstruct every book and author I encounter. But for whose benefit? I know I donít read vicious bigoted trash, so I donít feel I need to be as vigilant as I was in my middle years. I read for pleasure again. I can still see the flaws and influences and blindspots, if I want to. But I try not to let them overtake my enjoyment of the book.
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Old Today, 07:34 PM   #99
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As an old gal, I still have the ability to deconstruct every book and author I encounter. But for whose benefit? I know I donít read vicious bigoted trash, so I donít feel I need to be as vigilant as I was in my middle years. I read for pleasure again. I can still see the flaws and influences and blindspots, if I want to. But I try not to let them overtake my enjoyment of the book.
This. I now read almost exclusively for pleasure, and I simply do NOT read anything that is "viciously bigoted trash". Or anything with rape, torture, or lovingly described violence. And while I will sometimes give an otherwise good book a bit of a pass on historically accurate racism/sexism, only in the most limited way. And not at all if that's the whole point of the book, or if it's pervasive.
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Old Today, 07:36 PM   #100
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One thing that I see very differently today than I would have in my youth is the behaviour of the teacher, Mr. Phillips, towards Prissy Andrews. With our modern sensibilities, that read like a thoroughly unhealthy relationship. It probably did at the time of the writing, but I doubt I would have picked up on it as a young reader.
Yes, in todayís context, it stood out for me too. But that said, I was trying to remember if they actually said how old Mr. Phillips was? In NS in those days, it was quite common for people to begin teaching when they were still teenagers themselves.
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Old Today, 07:43 PM   #101
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Really doesn't matter how old they are, in the context of the power difference. And while I suppose it's possible he was still a teenager, he was undeniably her teacher. Plus the way he was described didn't lead me to believe he was only a couple of years older.
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Old Today, 08:19 PM   #102
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This. I now read almost exclusively for pleasure, and I simply do NOT read anything that is "viciously bigoted trash". Or anything with rape, torture, or lovingly described violence. And while I will sometimes give an otherwise good book a bit of a pass on historically accurate racism/sexism, only in the most limited way. And not at all if that's the whole point of the book, or if it's pervasive.
No, me either - I can’t and won’t read a book if that’s the case. But for others, as gmw said, authors are as human as the rest of us. I’m really not concerned about ‘literary merit’ either. Since leaving school, I’ve enjoyed most genres, and think excellent writing can be found in most formats. And sometimes, if I just need a break, a light fun beach read is perfect.

Edit: Sorry, I cross-posted with you - great point about the power differential. As we hear all the time, children and youth are so vulnerable to exploitation by people in positions of authority.

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Old Today, 08:42 PM   #103
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These days I do a lot of re-reading, and it highlights some things, like: memory is fallible; we change; all books have faults; sometimes the faults don't matter. All simple and obvious lessons, but nothing drives them home so well as experiencing them.

And sometimes the faults do matter. Sometimes understanding what we missed earlier is part of our own development, or as noted above, just part of understanding that we have developed; I'm not the same person I was 30 and 40 years ago, and this is a good thing. There was so much (good and bad) then that I didn't recognise back then and there was a lot that I read that I just sort of took on faith.

In these discussions we get to see books through the eyes of others, and with the help of others get a more complete historical and social background. What we learn may change us, and may change how we introduce the books to coming generations. Not that we would censor the books, but we might make extra effort to share the expanded context.
Yes I agree with all of this. The book hasn't changed between readings, but of course we have.

My real problem with Anne of Green Gables is that I read it only a few years ago, simply because it had never come my way when I was a child and I knew it was famous. I didn't enjoy it then, and I enjoyed it even less this time around when I was reading it more critically with the club discussion in mind.

The issue of the teacher and pupil mentioned by some is I suppose an example of something which to our modern minds has more potentially sinister overtones than I think was intended by Montgomery at the time she wrote the book. Not that predatory behaviour didn't happen back then, but that it wasn't seen or expected.

Last year when we read The Graveyard Book, which I enjoyed very much, I was prompted to go back and read Kipling's Jungle Books to pick up on the way in which Gaiman had paid tribute to those books. I had read them as a child and loved them. I enjoyed rereading them after such a long time, perhaps with that childhood memory affecting me. These days of course Kipling is much criticised for his colonial attitudes towards "the natives", but I can accept that he was of his time.
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Old Today, 09:20 PM   #104
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In terms of reading old favourites, my views have changed overtime. When I was young, I loved reading! And I was probably naive and took things on faith as well.

Later, in English Lit in college we were taught to scrutinize every author and book. I learned structural analysis though my studies in sociology & social work. Semiotics were in vogue, so nothing escaped. Throw in a feminist and political lens, and it didnít add up to a very happy reading life.

As an old gal, I still have the ability to deconstruct every book and author I encounter. But for whose benefit? I know I donít read vicious bigoted trash, so I donít feel I need to be as vigilant as I was in my middle years. I read for pleasure again. I can still see the flaws and influences and blindspots, if I want to. But I try not to let them overtake my enjoyment of the book.
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The background on what adoption was like is an area where I have been intentionally ignorant. The hints about what could have been, and what had been for Anne with her foster parent's/guardians, were bad enough. I'm sure it would be interesting in a morbid and educational way but when reading an old favorite like this, I don't really want to delve too deep into parts of it. This re-read and discussion has already taken more of the luster off the book than I expected going into it.
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These comments illustrate why I would never nominate a book that I loved unreservedly as a child. I can and do reread childhood favorites, and I can see flaws in them with adult eyes, but I love them anyway and don't want to lay them open to criticism or have to defend them.
ALL of these, especially the parts that I bolded! I was so upset by the direction and criticism of the early posts in this thread that I had to walk away for a few days until I could decompress on the weekend.

I don't want the luster to go away of some childhood books, and I don't want to defend it. It takes away from the feelings that you had as a child when experiencing some stories for the first time. Those are happy and positive memories and sometimes character-shaping, and I don't want them to be tainted by adult feelings/knowledge which is why I try not to "delve too deep" or "lay them open to criticism". I still have after all these decades later my childhood box set of the first 3 books. Sometimes I just want to revisit a childhood book and try to relive the happy, naive/innocent memories of reading.
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Old Today, 09:21 PM   #105
issybird
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
These days I do a lot of re-reading, and it highlights some things, like: memory is fallible; we change; all books have faults; sometimes the faults don't matter. All simple and obvious lessons, but nothing drives them home so well as experiencing them.

And sometimes the faults do matter. Sometimes understanding what we missed earlier is part of our own development, or as noted above, just part of understanding that we have developed; I'm not the same person I was 30 and 40 years ago, and this is a good thing. There was so much (good and bad) then that I didn't recognise back then and there was a lot that I read that I just sort of took on faith.
I don’t reread much, the whole “so many books, so little time” syndrome. But I’ve rediscovered the Victorian novels in recent years and they’ve been a revelation to me. They are entirely new books to this entirely different reader. I can’t agree more with you. My appreciation now is so much deeper and richer; it’s a great compensation for being older.

And part of what I missed entirely, or I’d prefer to think only saw tangentially/subliminally, is the social context of the books. There are entire realized worlds in these books, if uncomfortable, even offensive ones. I certainly didn’t pick up on the attitude toward the Acadians when I was a girl reading Anne, but it jumped out at me this time.

Quote:
In these discussions we get to see books through the eyes of others, and with the help of others get a more complete historical and social background. What we learn may change us,
This is one reason why I value actual discussions, as opposed to reviews. It’s in the examining of our own views in the light of others’ knowledge and experience and insight that our own understanding is enhanced.
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