I’m thrilled to announce the forthcoming publication of my next book, Becoming L.M. Montgomery, by University of Toronto Press in September 2018! This book has been several years in the making and has involved extensive research in archives and rare periodicals, including three trips to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. It is the first of several volumes to gather Montgomery’s extensive periodical publications and make them available to twenty-first-century readers. So looking forward to sharing this new material with L.M. Montgomery’s readers!
Years before she published her internationally celebrated first novel, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery started contributing short works to periodicals across North America. While these works consisted primarily of poems and short stories, she also experimented with a wider range of forms, particularly during the early years of her career, at which point she experimented with several authorial identities before settling on the professional moniker “L.M. Montgomery.”
In Becoming L.M. Montgomery, leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre collects the majority of these so-called “miscellaneous” pieces and discusses them in relation to the English-speaking women writers who preceded her and the strategies they used to succeed, including the decision to publish under a gender-neutral signature. Among the highlights of the volume are Montgomery’s contributions to student periodicals, a weekly newspaper column entitled “Around the Table,” a long-lost story narrated first by a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage and then by the man she wishes she had married instead, as well as a new edition of her 1917 celebrity memoir, “The Alpine Path.” Drawing fascinating links to Montgomery’s life writing, career, and fiction, this volume will offer scholars and readers alike an intriguing new look at the work of Canada’s most enduringly popular author.
I’m pleased to announce the release yesterday of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables, a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s best-selling novel with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by Montgomery. Although there are innumerable editions of this book currently on the market, most trade editions in North America reprint a version of the text that was modernized in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of additional small changes to the text. The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is one of the few that includes the full text of the original 1908 edition, with fourteen corrections that are listed in the section entitled “A Note on the Text.”
I’m so looking forward to participate this morning in a roundtable I organized on “Indigenous Texts and Young People” for the Association of Research in the Cultures of Young People, which meets today at the 2017 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, held at Ryerson University, my home institution. The panel will consist of the following presentations:
“Who Is a (Métis) Author: Race, Métisness, and Children’s Literature,” by Jennifer Adese (Carleton University)
“The Weight of the Absence at the Centre of the Text: Responding to Missing Nimâmâ,” by Katherine Bell (Wilfrid Laurier University)
“Shifting the Grounds: Witness, Knowledge, Complication,” by Louise Saldanha (Douglas College)
“Show and Tell: Indigenous Crossover Texts,” by Benjamin Lefebvre (Ryerson University)
“Nineteenth-Century Indigenous Child Printing Programs,” by Jane Griffith (University of Toronto)
For those of you at Congress, this session will be in Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre, room 508, starting at 10:30 this morning. It will then be followed by ARCYP’s Annual General Meeting and two additional roundtables. Please join us!
Galvanized by the theme of Congress 2017, “The Next 150 on Indigenous Lands,” this roundtable seeks to take stock of Indigenous texts for and/or about young people in the twenty-first century. Whether depicting past injustices such as the residential school system, continued hardships under neocolonial policies, or the possibilities for Indigenous identities in contemporary culture, these texts as a collective are produced within a complex system of shifting priorities. Concerns about accuracy and authenticity are sometimes in competition with the priorities of publishing as a business, especially when it comes to books published by mainstream/settler presses and intended largely for non-Indigenous readers: a manuscript is accepted if it is deemed to have the potential to sell sufficiently for the publisher to make a profit, and a book needs to sell sufficiently to stay in print. And while the publication of Indigenous-created texts for young people has been steady since the 1970s, the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada have granted such texts more visibility in the mainstream media and have promoted these texts as opportunities to share and celebrate Indigenous histories, identities, and knowledges.
I welcome proposals for ten-minute presentations on any aspect of Indigenous texts for and/or about young people across the age spectrum, from alphabet books and picture-book texts to book-length fiction and graphic novels and also including texts for adults about young people. Topics could include but are certainly not limited to the following:
The politics and economics of publication (texts published by Indigenous presses and texts published by settler presses)
Alternative forms of publishing in the Web 2.0 era, including multilingual and multimedia texts
The politics of historical fiction (granting voice to survivors of the residential school system while potentially introducing settler readers to this historical event)
Texts and target markets (Indigenous readers and/or settler readers)
Questions of witness, empathy, and appropriation (such as Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Secret Path)
Revising or dismantling Western histories, literary conventions, and understandings of land, family, community, and knowledge
Indigeneity and activism
Media coverage of Indigenous texts for young people
Stories of Indigenous young people aimed at adult readers, including memoirs of Indigenous childhoods
Please submit a proposal of 250 words, along with a bio note of 50 words and a statement about any A/V needs, to Benjamin Lefebvre (email@example.com) by 31 March 2017.
I’m thrilled to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, which Penguin Canada published in 2009, will be republished in October 2017 as part of the Penguin Canada Modern Classics imprint! It can be pre-ordered through the Penguin Random House Canada website and through all book vendors.
Given that 2017 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Montgomery’s death, and given that the typescript for the book was apparently delivered to her publisher the very day of her death (which was interpreted by her family as a suicide), I am especially pleased that the book will be released again during this anniversary year.
More details about this new edition, including cover art, will be published here as soon as they’re available!
Both an adventure-laced captivity tale and an impassioned denunciation of the marginalization of Indigenous culture in the face of European colonial expansion, Douglass Smith Huyghue’s Argimou (1847) is the first Canadian novel to describe the fall of eighteenth-century Fort Beauséjour and the expulsion of the Acadians. Its integration of the untamed New Brunswick landscape into the narrative, including a dramatic finale that takes place over the reversing falls in Saint John, intensifies a sense of the heroic proportions of the novel’s protagonist, Argimou.
Even if read as an escapist romance and captivity tale, Argimou captures for posterity a sense of the Tantramar mists, boundless forests, and majestic waters informing the topographical character of pre-Victorian New Brunswick. Its snapshot of the human suffering occasioned by the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians, and its appeal to Victorian readers to pay attention to the increasingly disenfranchised state of Indigenous peoples, make the novel a valuable contribution to early Canadian fiction.
Situating the novel in its eighteenth-century historical and geographical context, the afterword to this new edition foregrounds the author’s skilful adaptation of historical-fiction conventions popularized by Sir Walter Scott and additionally highlights his social concern for the fate of Indigenous cultures in nineteenth-century Maritime Canada.
First published in 1947, In Due Season broke new ground with its fictional representation of women and of Indigenous people. Set during the dustbowl 1930s, this prize-winning novel follows Lina Ashley, a homesteader who takes her family from southern Alberta to a new life in the Peace River region. Her daughter Poppy grows up in a community characterized by harmonious interactions between the Métis and the European settlers. Still, there is tension between mother and daughter when Poppy becomes involved with a Métis lover. This novel expands the patriarchal canon of Canadian prairie fiction by depicting the agency of a successful female settler and, as noted by Dorothy Livesay, was “one of the first, if not the first Canadian novel wherein the plight of the Native Indian and the Métis is honestly and painfully recorded.”
The afterword by Carole Gerson and Janice Dowson provides information about author van der Mark and situates her book within the contexts of Canadian social, literary, and publishing history.
A tremendous resource for fans and scholars alike, the three-volume The L.M. Montgomery Reader gathers together a captivating selection of material, much of it recently rediscovered, on the life, work, and critical reception of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors.
Collecting material on Montgomery’s life (Volume One), her critical reputation (Volume Two), and reviews of her books (Volume Three), leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre traces the interplay between the author and the critic, as well as between the private and the public Montgomery. Each volume includes an extensive introduction and detailed commentary on the documents that provides the context for these primary sources, many of them freshly unearthed from archives and digital collections and never before published in book form.
These volumes have received tremendous praise from reviewers:
“While Lefebvre’s The L.M. Montgomery Reader is a vital resource of primary sources from and secondary assessments of one of Canada’s most popular twentieth-century authors, it is his insightful and knowledgeable analysis that shapes and gives meaning to the collection. . . . The depth of his knowledge results in a work that is as comprehensible as it is comprehensive.” –André Narbonne, American Review of Canadian Studies
“Lefebvre’s archival research is thorough and often brilliant, making the Reader an invaluable trove not only for Montgomery scholars but also for those working with the reception history of Canadian writers, especially women before Laurence, Munro, and Atwood. For Montgomery completists, the Reader is irresistible. For those engaged in Montgomery studies or Canadian literature more generally, it is invaluable.” –Anne Furlong, University of Toronto Quarterly
“With this volume, Lefebvre broadens our understanding of Montgomery’s reception and reputation both within Canada and internationally, unearthing previously obscure content and commentary and making it accessible to a far wider audience. This reader will thus prove a valuable resource to both existing and future scholars of Montgomery’s work and life, as well as those fans keen for a little more insight into the ever-elusive figure of L.M. Montgomery.” –Sarah Galletly, British Journal of Canadian Studies
“Lefebvre has uncovered a cache of new, important material in an already impressive and crowded field of Montgomery scholarship. . . . His sensitive editing of the material brings the public side of Montgomery into better focus as she fields endless questions about how she became a writer, how Anne came to be and whether or not she was a real girl and what the author thought of young women in her day. [This book will] deepen our knowledge and understanding of this beloved Canadian icon.” –Laurie Glenn Norris,Telegraph–Journal (Saint John, NB)
“Lefebvre has thoroughly mined earlier scholars’ bibliographies and online newspaper archives to find reviews in periodicals from eight different countries, including theBookman (London), the Globe (Toronto) and Vogue (New York). . . . Collectively, these reviews . . . represent a superb barometer of [Montgomery’s] fluctuating cultural value as a writer.” –Irene Gammel, The Times Literary Supplement