I’m pleased to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered last book, The Blythes Are Quoted, is now available from Viking Canada.
UPDATED 24 OCTOBER: For more on this book, see the following links:
“Waterloo-based academic finds L.M. Montgomery’s last ‘darker’ work” (Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 24 October 2009)
“A different Anne and Gilbert” (The Globe and Mail, 23 October 2009)
“Green Gables tale darkens in final book” (CBC News, 23 October 2009)
UPDATED 26 OCTOBER: See also my essay “The Dark Side of L.M. Montgomery,” published in The Mark.
The short story “Some Fools and a Saint” is now available for download from Penguin Canada’s website.
UPDATED 20 NOVEMBER: “The Dark Side of L.M. Montgomery” now includes a podcast of me reading extracts from Anne of Windy Willows.
So, Ben, I’m about a third of the way through and have a question that’s going to come off as overly critical, but really, it’s just a question: I’ve noticed two errors so far (at least, they’re errors IMHO). How much copyediting did you do? Did you decide to present the text exactly as LMM turned it in, or is it, um, more of an oversight?
(Errors: reference to Charlie Pye, which, while possible, I think was meant to be Charlie Sloane; reference to kids acting out death of Edith Cavell, which didn’t happen until WWI, not when Nan and Di were children.)
Really enjoying the book so far, and I thank you for it.
Yes, both these oversights are Montgomery’s, and there are several more. As I mention in the afterword and in the “Note on the Text,” I standardized Montgomery’s spelling, punctuation, and hyphenation to make the text more readable (the typescript contains lots of variants in terms of British/American spellings, ellipses, missing words, and the like), but I deliberately did not correct substantive errors in the text, including the ones that you mention, all of which appear in all three versions of the book in typescript form. Ultimately, what you are reading is a version of the text that is as close as possible to the typescript Montgomery finished and submitted to her publishers, with her mistakes and oversights left intact.
Glad you’re enjoying the book–look forward to reading further impressions.
Benjamin, thanks so much for the quick response. I just looked at the Notes on the Text and was glad to see that instances where I thought I must have been remembering wrong were also just errors (because I’m that vain, I guess). I’m intrigued by the choice you made, which I’m guessing was a challenge. I know some of my friends who are extreme sticklers for accuracy will want to know about the errors before they read… I expect to post about the book on my blog sometime in the next few weeks.
We debated about all this–it’s an unusual book, of course, and as an editor you really hesitate to fiddle too much with a book when the author’s no longer alive. In the end it was a mutual decision to let Montgomery’s text speak for itself, which is why those errors were left and why the “Note on the Text” follows rather than precedes Montgomery’s book.
Look forward to hearing more of your impressions.
Well that’s just plain silly. If you’re an editor then you should…edit….for small things like continuity. Charlie Sloane should not suddenly become one of the Pyes. JK Rowling has this same issue in some of her books and I always thought – geesh – they should have got at least one or two die hard fan to read them and catch stuff like that – then actually fix it.
It’s actually a lot trickier when the author is no longer alive. The convention in this case is usually to do less editing than what authors generally receive today. Fiddling with the mechanics of writing–regularizing spelling, punctuation, grammar, to be consistent throughout–is certainly acceptable, just to make the text more readable, but once an editor starts making changes to structure or to content it gets dicey really fast, since the author isn’t around to approve those changes. “Charlie Pye” is obviously a mistake, but it’s one she makes on every version of the typescript that survives. If I had corrected it, I also would have had to correct “Roy Gardiner” (which should be “Gardner”) and “Rosamond West” (which should be “Rosemary”). To my mind, these mistakes aren’t simply a slip of the fingers on a typewriter–they show Montgomery’s failing memory (or inattention to detail) as she grows older. Since these mistakes show so much about Montgomery’s state of mind as she put this manuscript together, it seemed wrong to correct such a mistake simply for the sake of continuity.
I am an australian LMM fan. My friend reccomended the anne series to me when she just finished ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and I have read all the books except ‘TBaQ’ because it is unavailable in Australia. I was wondering would the road to yesterday be a good substitute or should i order a copy from overseas
One of the problems with The Road to Yesterday is that it cuts out all the vignettes of poetry and dialogue, which is where Anne and Gilbert appear (for the most part). A number of readers have told me they enjoy comparing the two versions, though. You can order Blythes on Amazon.ca at a substantial discount, which would cover a portion of the shipping costs to Australia.