Anne of Green Gables, Elijah of Buxton, and Margaret of Newfoundland

Margaret Mackey

Abstract


In lieu of an abstract, here is an excerpt from this article:

For a century, L.M. Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables has dominated Canadian children’s literature. In Canada, Anne is instantly recognizable in any medium; two red braids and a straw hat are usually enough to trigger the identification. As a national figure, she has been reincarnated in many different forms. But beyond the red hair, Anne is a character whose fictional life is firmly rooted in a particular space and time. Nineteenth-century Avonlea is the ground to Anne’s figure, and she is most clearly seen in this specific context. In this article, I will undertake three related activities. Firstly, I will explore some versions of Anne of Green Gables, drawing on the original novel and a number of contemporary reworkings, investigating the Anne of Green Gables universe in terms of different artistic renderings of time and space (using Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope), and interrogating what happens to that universe as it is commercially expanded and exploited. Secondly, I will draw on a new novel, Christopher Paul Curtis’s Elijah of Buxton, a book entirely unconnected to the oeuvre of L.M. Montgomery yet profoundly related to important questions of national story, myth, and core identity. I will re-read Anne of Green Gables in the light of this challenging Canadian narrative, set in the same period, though in a very different social (and narrative) community. Thirdly (and simultaneously), I will introduce an element often missing in critical essays: the personal reader.

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