Keeping out the shadows : overreading L.M. Montgomery's novels through her journals

Healey, Keli Jo T. (1995) Keeping out the shadows : overreading L.M. Montgomery's novels through her journals. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The individual who tries to separate Lucy Maud Montgomery's novels from one another or who attempts to study her journals as distinct from her novels soon experiences frustration. Montgomery's writings are interwoven in a pattern so intricate they may never be completely untangled. A study of her work therefore requires a flexible approach to the concept of literary genres. Because each of Montgomery's works are so intricately interrelated, every text responds to another text. -- In recent years, scholars have approached Montgomery's writings with renewed interest, as access to her published journals now invites intertextual readings of her work. The journals enable readers to identify the personal and political life conditions that shape Montgomery's fiction. Once the connections between her fiction and nonfiction are established, it becomes possible to discern important connections among Montgomery's novels. This thesis will show that because Montgomery's fiction is rooted in the reality of her journals, each of her novels inevitably becomes a response to other novels as well. -- The stories of her heroines Anne Shirley and Emily Byrd Starr are closely connected to one another. The form and content of the Emily of New Moon series speaks directly to that of the Anne of Green Gables series. Our reading of Emily's story depends upon how we read Anne's story. Because Montgomery writes herself into her fiction, it follows that the part of her personality and life story that is closest to Anne's will enter Emily's tale as well. In Emily's story, Montgomery explores her own experiences of writing her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, and of rewriting her journals. The author is present in each of her novels depicting the characters of Anne and Emily, and the echoes of Anne's story can be traced through Emily's narrative when a direct link is established between the novels and the journals. -- To make such connections, the principles of overreading will be applied to the Anne of Green Gables series and to the Emily of New Moon series. The principles of this theory allow the reader to focus on the conditions that influence the writer during the creation of a text. The thesis is divided into three sections. Chapter One provides an intertextual introduction to Montgomery's journals and novels. Chapter Two focuses on the Anne series, and explores how the writing of Anne of Green Gables becomes a therapeutic process for Montgomery. The character of Anne, as she appears throughout the series, will be studied as an emblem of the female artist who is and is not able to use her own voice. In Chapter Three, the Emily of New Moon trilogy will be overread on two levels. First, it will present Emily as an emblem of the female writer in a society that imposes limitations on the artist and her art. Second, it will demonstrate that the form and content of the Anne series is closely connected to that of the Emily series. This chapter argues that in the Emily series, Montgomery traces her own creation of Anne of Green Gables through Emily's acts of writing, and depicts the rewriting of her own journals through Emily's acts of revision. Montgomery's journals will be used to decipher the autobiographical context of the novels in the Anne of Green Gables series and Emily of New Moon series. -- Nonfiction and fiction blend and blur in Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. Montgomery's journals from the 1890's are crucial to understanding the creative process underlying the stories of both Anne and Emily, for she takes life experiences recorded in her journals and incorporates them into each story. Her journals, wherein she records the events that shape her life, enable her to impose order on her fiction. In turn, her fiction and her journals collectively impose order on her life. This need to write and analyze life experiences leads to the creation of such characters as Anne Shirley and Emily Byrd Starr. Applying the principles of overreading to the Anne of Green Gables series and to the Emily of New Moon series uncovers the autobiographical, the political, and the personal elements in each work and focuses on the function of the form and content in the novels comprising the stories of both heroines.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5446
Item ID: 5446
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 158-168.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1995
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud), 1872-1942--Criticism and interpretation; Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud), 1872-1942--Journals

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