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Old 02-18-2020, 07:17 PM   #46
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You are welcome Victoria. I also found the following article, written by Margaret Atwood to celebrate the centenary of Anne of Green Gables' appearance in print, which I thought you and others might enjoy if you haven't already seen it. Amongst other things, she does mention that crack on Gilbert's head!

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...margaretatwood
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Old 02-19-2020, 07:09 AM   #47
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You are welcome Victoria. I also found the following article, written by Margaret Atwood to celebrate the centenary of Anne of Green Gables' appearance in print, which I thought you and others might enjoy if you haven't already seen it. Amongst other things, she does mention that crack on Gilbert's head!

https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...margaretatwood
I see Margaret Atwood agrees with some of us about the unlikelihood that Anne would have transcended her early life as she did!

Most interesting to me (since I think in fact we’re all on the same page as Atwood) is the list of reasons for Anne’s appeal to Japanese readers. I think they’re largely incidentals, though, and miss the heart of it. I suspect for Japanese girls even more so than Anglophone girls the appeal was the dichotomy of Anne’s early independence of mind and spirit, all the while knowing that she’d end up in a traditional life. Reality looms, but for a while we can keep it at bay in our imaginations.
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Old 02-19-2020, 07:28 AM   #48
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It's strange. I distinctly remember having some books of "stories for boys", and yet none of them have survived (in memory or on the shelf). I do still have some Enid Blyton books on the shelf (she was an equal opportunity patronizer of the very young ), and I do still have a few of the animal stories from back around then or a bit later (eg: The Silver Brumby), although most belonged to siblings or the library. But when comes to anything similar to Anne, or to Tom Sawyer nothing comes to mind. I'm fairly sure I read some, but none have stuck. Once I got beyond Blyton, my memory has me mostly taken up with animals and/or adult protagonists: my father had quite a lot Readers' Digest abridged books, including the first dozen or so Tarzan stories, and then sci-fi once I got to raid my high school library.
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Old 02-19-2020, 09:04 AM   #49
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Alas, even Rachel McAdam's reading of this could not revive any sort of nostalgia in this book for me. Anne annoyed me throughout and I am still not over my closeted childhood's disappointment that no one was actually gay. Of course, my adult self understands time and place and why that was never going to happen, but it colored my experience with the book my whole life.

As others have mentioned, it is why Jo March is always going to be my be-all, end-all fictional character from childhood. I can even happily ignore the professor at the end as I know Alcott didn't want him.
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Old 02-19-2020, 10:24 AM   #50
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Another interesting article, thanks Bookpossum. I wonder if Margaret Atwood “has got mellow” too? I thought Anne came out relatively unscathed, as measured on the Atwood scale.

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I see Margaret Atwood agrees with some of us about the unlikelihood that Anne would have transcended her early life as she did!

Most interesting to me (since I think in fact we’re all on the same page as Atwood) is the list of reasons for Anne’s appeal to Japanese readers. I think they’re largely incidentals, though, and miss the heart of it. I suspect for Japanese girls even more so than Anglophone girls the appeal was the dichotomy of Anne’s early independence of mind and spirit, all the while knowing that she’d end up in a traditional life. Reality looms, but for a while we can keep it at bay in our imaginations.
I found her reasons for the Japanese affinity with Anne interesting too. Good point - Anne’s early independent spirit must have great appeal for girls in a such a reserved society, with such strict traditional gender roles. That said, I can see how Anne’s shared aesthetic and reverence for nature would resonate quite deeply across the culture too.

I agreed with Atwood point about Marilla’s development over the story vs Anne’s. That struck me reading it this time too.
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Old 02-19-2020, 10:37 AM   #51
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As others have mentioned, it is why Jo March is always going to be my be-all, end-all fictional character from childhood. I can even happily ignore the professor at the end as I know Alcott didn't want him.
Have you read the recent graphic novel retelling of Little Women, wherein Jo is explicitly gay? The Marches are now a blended family with different races as well.

I haven’t read it myself, although I gave it to my niece for Christmas as I thought it might speak to her interests; she had recommended the wonderful Fun Home to me. I wasn’t wowed by making Jo gay, as I thought one of the other sisters would be a more interesting choice, especially Beth, where a life of repression and unspeakable longings could well have led to her being a homebody and even been a factor in her early death. However, I acknowledge that for the gay child reader, Jo would be the most satisfying.

I’m going way off on a tangent here and I don’t want to sound too facile, but I think it can be interesting to try to reimagine classics with the marginal in mind, as with the graphic novel I mentioned above. I agree that there’s not a lot of scope for that in AoGG. Matthew’s an obvious candidate for being a closeted gay man, but that doesn’t get us anywhere. Still, I think a lot of readers, especially child readers, probably get skillful at taking from stories what they need, as we’ve discussed, and revamping them when necessary. No Professor Bhaer!
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Old 02-19-2020, 11:12 AM   #52
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Have you read the recent graphic novel retelling of Little Women, wherein Jo is explicitly gay? The Marches are now a blended family with different races as well.

I haven’t read it myself, although I gave it to my niece for Christmas as I thought it might speak to her interests; she had recommended the wonderful Fun Home to me. I wasn’t wowed by making Jo gay, as I thought one of the other sisters would be a more interesting choice, especially Beth, where a life of repression and unspeakable longings could well have led to her being a homebody and even been a factor in her early death. However, I acknowledge that for the gay child reader, Jo would be the most satisfying.

I’m going way off on a tangent here and I don’t want to sound too facile, but I think it can be interesting to try to reimagine classics with the marginal in mind, as with the graphic novel I mentioned above. I agree that there’s not a lot of scope for that in AoGG. Matthew’s an obvious candidate for being a closeted gay man, but that doesn’t get us anywhere. Still, I think a lot of readers, especially child readers, probably get skillful at taking from stories what they need, as we’ve discussed, and revamping them when necessary. No Professor Bhaer!
I haven't had the chance, but I am on a hold list at the library for the re-telling.

As for retellings, has anyone here taken in Anne with an E on Netflix? Apparently there is some nice stretching and shifting though the setting has not changed. There are race and sex issues being dealt with in a nice modern way if the reviews are to be believed.
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Old 02-19-2020, 11:43 AM   #53
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Does anyone else think that Anne and her bosom friend, Diana, don’t have a lot in common? When we first meet her, Diana’s reading a book, but I think that’s the last time we see her engaged in an intellectual pursuit. Anne is even privately critical of Diana’s choice of the name Birch Path, which is not very nice of her. While I agree that Birch Path tends toward the unimaginative, in fact I vastly prefer it to “Lake of Shining Waters” and “White Way of Delight.”

One gets the sense that other than Gilbert, Anne doesn’t meet her intellectual equals until she gets to Queen’s.
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Old 02-19-2020, 11:52 AM   #54
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Alas, even Rachel McAdam's reading of this could not revive any sort of nostalgia in this book for me. Anne annoyed me throughout and I am still not over my closeted childhood's disappointment that no one was actually gay. Of course, my adult self understands time and place and why that was never going to happen, but it colored my experience with the book my whole life.

As others have mentioned, it is why Jo March is always going to be my be-all, end-all fictional character from childhood. I can even happily ignore the professor at the end as I know Alcott didn't want him.
I can easily see how the early story would foster someone’s hope that this story might finally be different; and then the letdown. You also shine a very different light on the scene where Marilla finds Anne distraught about Diana’s future wedding. It would be especially devastating for young gay readers to have her laugh and be so dismissive.

When I reread the book this time, that scene struck me as rather unbelievable. But now I can recall having similar worries about losing close friends to marriage.


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Does anyone else think that Anne and her bosom friend, Diana, don’t have a lot in common? When we first meet her, Diana’s reading a book, but I think that’s the last time we see her engaged in an intellectual pursuit. Anne is even privately critical of Diana’s choice of the name Birch Path, which is not very nice of her. While I agree that Birch Path tends toward the unimaginative, in fact I vastly prefer it to “Lake of Shining Waters” and “White Way of Delight.”

One gets the sense that other than Gilbert, Anne doesn’t meet her intellectual equals until she gets to Queen’s.


I thought Diana and Anne were quite different as well. But since they were both so lonely before meeting each other the friendship made sense.

Your observations on Diana made me smile. I was surprised when she was described by her mother as a reader; I hadn’t remembered that, and she didn’t strike me as someone who read much. I preferred ‘birch path’ too.

In terms of intellectual equals, Marilla is the only person who comes to mind, though very different. So you can see why Gilbert would be a magnet for Anne’s attention.

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Old 02-19-2020, 01:53 PM   #55
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I agree with that and I’m going to express the heretical to our Canadians belief that Anne has more in common with the New England of the US of its times than it does with Canada as a whole. The late nineteenth century hardscrabble economies of the North Atlantic I suspect transcended nationality, especially as the Maritimes were separated from the rest of Anglo Canada by the huge swath of Quebec. Much closer geographically, there also was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing even as evidenced in the text, with Islanders traveling to the US and “rich Americans” vacationing on the Island.
With apologies for straying off topic, I just wanted to mention a book on cultural history in follow-up to issybird’s observations about Anne’s commonalities with New England. The book is Albion’s Seed, by David Hackett Fischer. https://www.amazon.com/Albions-Seed-...al-text&sr=1-1


From Library Journal
This cultural history explains the European settlement of the United States as voluntary migrations from four English cultural centers. Families of zealous, literate Puritan yeomen and artisans from urbanized East Anglia established a religious community in Massachusetts (1629-40); royalist cavaliers headed by Sir William Berkeley and young, male indentured servants from the south and west of England built a highly stratified agrarian way of life in Virginia (1640-70); egalitarian Quakers of modest social standing from the North Midlands resettled in the Delaware Valley and promoted a social pluralism (1675-1715); and, in by far the largest migration (1717-75), poor borderland families of English, Scots, and Irish fled a violent environment to seek a better life in a similarly uncertain American backcountry. These four cultures, reflected in regional patterns of language, architecture, literacy, dress, sport, social structure, religious beliefs, and familial ways, persisted in the American settlements. The final chapter shows the significance of these regional cultures for American history up to the present. Insightful, fresh, interesting, and well-written, this synthesis of traditional and more current historical scholarship provides a model for interpretations of the American character. Subsequent volumes of this promised multivolume work will be eagerly awaited. Highly recommended for the general reader and the scholar.


I’ve recently started it and though it’s focused on the U.S., I find it resonates with this Maritimer, so thought it might be of interest to others with British roots as well. It also brought to mind our earlier discussions about the ethos of Lake District when we discussed The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks.

It was rated quite highly at the UK Amazon site, but I did read critiques as well, so I hope this isn’t offensive to anyone.

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Old 02-19-2020, 06:39 PM   #56
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Does anyone else think that Anne and her bosom friend, Diana, don’t have a lot in common? When we first meet her, Diana’s reading a book, but I think that’s the last time we see her engaged in an intellectual pursuit. Anne is even privately critical of Diana’s choice of the name Birch Path, which is not very nice of her. While I agree that Birch Path tends toward the unimaginative, in fact I vastly prefer it to “Lake of Shining Waters” and “White Way of Delight.”

One gets the sense that other than Gilbert, Anne doesn’t meet her intellectual equals until she gets to Queen’s.
The names, for me, were yet another aspect of this story that made it seem so obviously an adult trying to be child-like. These names seemed all too literal to be the mark of an imaginative child.

I wondered whether the author changed her mind about Diana, perhaps thinking that at first she would be difficult as the "bosom" friend that Anne sought. And I still think it's a little open to interpretation given Anne's inclination for dramatics: was the friendship really so close, or was it all part of a dramatic pretence by Anne that became a habit?

As for intellectual equals, for much of the book Anne didn't really seem like a studious child except as we are explicitly told, and knuckling down to study seemed at odds with her easily distracted nature in other things - more in line with an adult trying to impart a good moral to young readers than a reflection of the character. Anne's behaviour seemed more to suggest a future as an actress rather than a scholar.
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Old 02-19-2020, 07:40 PM   #57
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I suspect that Anne had been reading Longfellow:

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By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
Though given that she had only really started her schooling when she was put into the orphanage, that seems to be a bit of a stretch.

I think you are right gmw - what a loss for the world of melodrama when Anne decided to study and be a teacher!

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Old 02-20-2020, 08:55 AM   #58
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With apologies for straying off topic, I just wanted to mention a book on cultural history in follow-up to issybird’s observations about Anne’s commonalities with New England. The book is Albion’s Seed, by David Hackett Fischer. https://www.amazon.com/Albions-Seed-...al-text&sr=1-1
Oh, thank you for this, victoria! It looks exactly my thing and fortunately the local university has it since it’s a little on the pricey side.
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Old 02-20-2020, 09:04 AM   #59
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The names, for me, were yet another aspect of this story that made it seem so obviously an adult trying to be child-like. These names seemed all too literal to be the mark of an imaginative child.

I wondered whether the author changed her mind about Diana, perhaps thinking that at first she would be difficult as the "bosom" friend that Anne sought. And I still think it's a little open to interpretation given Anne's inclination for dramatics: was the friendship really so close, or was it all part of a dramatic pretence by Anne that became a habit?

As for intellectual equals, for much of the book Anne didn't really seem like a studious child except as we are explicitly told, and knuckling down to study seemed at odds with her easily distracted nature in other things - more in line with an adult trying to impart a good moral to young readers than a reflection of the character. Anne's behaviour seemed more to suggest a future as an actress rather than a scholar.
I have to agree that much of the product of Anne’s much-vaunted imagination seemed rather tedious to me. I can well imagine finding her tiresome, which I think relates to what qualifies as a kindred spirit for Anne. It’s the chicken and the egg; what all her kindred spirits have in common is that they think Anne’s wonderful, so do they think she’s wonderful because they’re kindred spirits, or does Anne think they’re kindred spirits because they think she’s wonderful? Unfortunately, this tendency only gets worse as the books progress. Diana also suffers a mental decline, I’m grieved to report.

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I suspect that Anne had been reading Longfellow:
Oh, ugh, but no doubt she did. Talk about someone who has not stood the test of time. At that, he fell out of favor pretty rapidly, but it lasted out his life.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:21 PM   #60
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......Oh, ugh, but no doubt she did. Talk about someone who has not stood the test of time. At that, he fell out of favor pretty rapidly, but it lasted out his life.
However, I think Longfellow’s ‘Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie’ will continue to be revered in these parts for a long time to come.
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