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The Blythes Are Quoted in Quill & Quire’s Fall Preview

The Blythes Are Quoted has been included in the Canadian fiction section of Quill & Quire‘s Fall Preview, compiled by Steven W. Beattie and included in the July-August 2009 issue, available now:

Benjamin Lefebvre edits The Blythes Are Quoted (Penguin Canada, $25 cl., Oct.), a posthumous novel from L.M. Montgomery that features the author’s usual themes: adultery, misogyny, revenge, and murder.

L.M. Montgomery—Writer of the World (20-23 August 2009)

The first international conference on L.M. Montgomery outside Canada

Uppsala, Sweden, will be the venue for an international conference entitled L.M. Montgomery—Writer of the World, 20-23 August 2009. The conference commemorates the first translation of Anne of Green Gables, the Swedish Anne på Grönkulla which appeared in 1909. Conference organisers are Gabriella Åhmansson, University of Gävle  and Åsa Warnqvist, Uppsala University.

The main theme for the conference is reading response and it has attracted 28 speakers from 10 different countries, including major Montgomery scholars such as Elizabeth Waterston, Mary H. Rubio, Elizabeth Rollins Epperly and Irene Gammel. The last day of the conference, Sunday August 23, is open to the general public, a tribute to one hundred years of devoted Montgomery readers in Sweden.

For a detailed programme and information on how to register, please visit the conference website http://ahmansson.com/montgomery2009.html or contact the conference coordinators at asa.warnqvist@littvet.uu.se.

The conference is hosted by University of Uppsala, one of Europe’s oldest universities, established in 1477. More information on the beautiful medieval city of Uppsala and its surroundings can be found on the Uppsala Tourism official website http://www.uppsala.to/en.

L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature (2010)

Call for Papers

Please note the extended deadline is now September 15, 2009.

L. M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature
9th International Conference
University of Prince Edward Island
June 23-27, 2010

In 2010 we invite you to consider L.M. Montgomery and the matter of nature. While multiple romanticisms have informed L.M. Montgomery’s passionate views of nature her descriptions were complex as she wrote both of and for nature. What are the effects of the representations and images of nature that are crafted and circulated in the fiction of Montgomery, and in that of other writers of literature (especially for children and youth)? How do her narrations of nature shape children and adults within and across cultures? How do particular constructions of nature work in fiction, across such differences as gender, race, culture and class? What are the cultural and historical contingencies surrounding nature in Montgomery’s work? In recent years, the matter of “nature” itself has been the subject of much-contested debate and theoretical innovation across disciplines. Nature situates binary relationships that are often represented as hierarchical and oppositional. These include nature and culture; child and adult; animal and human; male and female; reason and emotion; mind and body; modern and traditional; raw and cooked; domestic and wild; urban and rural?among others. How might any of these formulations be examined and challenged (or not) in the context of Montgomery’s work? What does it mean to consider Montgomery as a “green” writer (Doody) or as a proto-ecofeminist (Holmes)? What do Montgomery’s provocative readings of nature offer us at a time of environmental crises and ecological preoccupations?

Please send one-page abstracts and short biographical sketches by September 15, 2009 to:
L.M. Montgomery Institute
University of Prince Edward Island
550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3 Canada
E-mail: lmminst@upei.ca

Announcement: The Blythes Are Quoted

I’m pleased to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final novel, The Blythes Are Quoted, will be published by Penguin Canada in 2009:

The Blythes Are Quoted

By L.M. Montgomery
Edited by Benjamin Lefebvre
With a foreword by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly
Toronto: Penguin Canada, forthcoming 1 October 2009

The never-before-published complete and unabridged last work of L.M. Montgomery

Adultery, illegitimacy, misogyny, revenge, murder, despair, bitterness, hatred, and death—usually not the first terms associated with L.M. Montgomery. But in The Blythes Are Quoted, completed shortly before her death and never before published in its entirety, Montgomery brought these topics to the forefront in what she intended to be the ninth volume in her bestselling series featuring the beloved heroine Anne. Divided into two sections, one set before and one after the Great War of 1914-1918, The Blythes Are Quoted contains fifteen short stories that include an adult Anne and her family. Between these short stories Montgomery inserted sketches featuring Anne and Gilbert Blythe discussing poems by Anne and their middle son, Walter, who dies as a soldier in the war. By blending together poetry, prose, and dialogue, Montgomery was experimenting with storytelling methods in ways she had never attempted before. The Blythes Are Quoted marks L.M. Montgomery’s final contribution to a body of work that continues to fascinate readers all over the world.

Two New Publications

Last week I received copies of two new publications. The first is a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s novel A Tangled Web (1931), published by Dundurn Press, for which I wrote a new introduction. The second is an article titled “Agency, Belonging, Citizenship: The ABCs of Nation-Building in Contemporary Canadian Texts for Adolescents,” published in the Autumn 2008 issue of Canadian Literature. It is an expansion of a paper I first gave at the International Symposium on Adolescent Literature at Ningbo University (China) in May 2007. Here is the abstract:

Abstract: This paper pinpoints the ways in which discourses of agency, belonging, and citizenship are staged in a handful of Canadian texts for adolescents published in the last twenty-five years: Beatrice Culleton’s April Raintree (1984), Marlene Nourbese Philip’s Harriet’s Daughter (1988), Deborah Ellis’s Parvana’s Journey (2002), Glen Huser’s Stitches (2003), and Martine Leavitt’s Heck Superhero (2004). These novels depict young people who are marginalized due to oppressive discourses such as racism, patriarchy, homophobia, poverty, and the dissolution of the nuclear family, and thus lack the support systems of the status quo. At the same time, they appear to broach larger questions about the construction of the Canadian nation alongside the story of a central protagonist’s growth from relative immaturity to relative maturity. Undercutting the dominant fantasy of a liberal and diverse nation-state, these narratives refuse to resolve or settle oppressive discourses that conflict with official policies of multiculturalism, keeping the ideal nation in sight but out of reach.

Public Lecture at Ryerson University

As part of the Metropolis Lecture Series hosted by the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre at Ryerson University, I will be giving a public lecture entitled “Divided City, Divided Self: Reading Montreal,” which will examine the depictions of Montreal in Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes and Gabrielle Roy’s The Tin Flute, two popular novels that were published immediately before the Citizenship Act of 1946. The lecture will occur on Monday, 30 March 2009 from 4:30 to 5:30 at 111 Gerrard St. (Third floor) in Toronto. All are welcome to attend.

Takes on Maud

I’ll be participating at the following event at the Bookshelf Cinema in Guelph, this Thursday, 23 October, at 7:00 PM, as part of a conference on L.M. Montgomery happening this weekend at the University of Guelph:

“Takes on Maud,” a screening of two short films — I Know a Secret by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Boys and Girls by Alice Munro, produced by Atlantis Films runs at the Bookshelf Cinema. It will be followed by a panel discussion and reception in the E-Bar. Panellists are Michael MacMillan, executive chair of Alliance Atlantis; University professor emerita Elizabeth Waterston; Prof. Paul Salmon, English and Theatre Studies; and film historian Benjamin Lefebvre of the University of Alberta.

Globe and Mail: “The Heartbreaking Truth”

An article titled “The Heartbreaking Truth about Anne’s Creator,” written by Kate Macdonald Butler (Montgomery’s granddaughter), appears in today’s Globe and Mail (pp. F1, F6):

Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness.

What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.