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Title: The Scottish context of L.M. Montgomery
Author: Litster, Jennifer H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 8452
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis is the first full-length study to assess the impact of the Scottish diaspora in Canada through the writing of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery [1874-1942], Scottish legacies are key to Montgomery's identity, and a pivotal force in her writing. L.M. Montgomery's clan and community genealogies are retraced in a threefold examination of roots. Family legends are analysed with reference to Scottish migration to Prince Edward Island, Montgomery's native province and favoured fictional setting. This thesis aims to provide a more accurate picture of Montgomery's background, and questions some of her assumptions about her Lowland Scots heritage. Integral to each strand is the Canadian context that endorses Montgomery's Scots progenitors as "a chosen people". This legacy becomes the central motif in Montgomery's fiction. This thesis establishes a new critical framework to facilitate the study of this superiority complex, classifying Montgomery's books as either community or clan novels. It argues that Montgomery's first novel, Anne of Green Gables [1908], is not a model for all her subsequent fiction, only those books where community is primary. She diversifies from the "Anne" genre in novels where clan is central, and Scottish family history and folklore increasingly important. This trend is consolidated in the autobiographical "Emily" trilogy, where Scottish roots are expressly an essential component of the heroine's Canadian identity. L.M. Montgomery achieved commercial success partly by attuning her work to existing literary markets. Her antecedents in popularjuvenile literature are significant, but her books and stories also appealed to an adult audience conversant with "local color" writing. This thesis finds parallels between Montgomery's "regional idylls" and those of the popular Scottish authors, J.M. Barrie and Ian Maclaren. Montgomery perceives elements of her Canadian childhood in their books, but adds ironic subtexts when echoing the "Kailyard" world in her fiction. The Scottish milieu in Montgomery's work is neither static nor sentimental. The First World War had an enormous impact on Montgomery personally and on Canadian society. Montgomery's fiction grapples with a new focus on national identity instigated in post-war Canada. In some books, old country antecedents recede, or become contrived. More often, Montgomery imports a darker, more divisive, and less idealistic Scottish heritage, particularly as regards Scottish Presbyterianism. In the inter-war years, Montgomery advocated the preservation of family lore and oral history in order to protect and celebrate Canadian diversity. Scottish customs - Presbyterian faith, folk beliefs, literary and linguistic traditions, clan and community connections - lie at the heart of her Canadian romance and Canadian realism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available