Fifth volume of L.M. Montgomery journals depicts the end of an era
BY LORI BONA HUNT
The fifth and final volume of the personal journals of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, edited by University professor emeriti Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston, English and Theatre Studies, will be published Oct. 1.
The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Volume 5 chronicles the author's life from 1935 until her death at age 68 in 1942.
“This volume is a remarkable document because of the social history in it,” says Waterston.
The final volume is as much a depiction of the end of the Edwardian era and the profound shift in Canadian society as it is a record of the life of one of Canada's most important authors, she says.
“Throughout this volume, Montgomery interweaves her account of the historical period leading up to the Second World War with the story of her personal life: of writing her final three books, of travelling around Ontario to speak, of being active in the Toronto literary world, of coping with a husband who periodically sinks into melancholy, of watching with grief as one beloved son lives an increasingly disordered life while the other, a hard-working medical student, prepares to be sent off to war.”
Rubio adds that the volume also provides insight into the effect of untreated mental illness within a family as Montgomery confronts her husband's growing depression.
“Today, when clinical depression is much in the news, Montgomery's entries are particularly touching and valuable because she often describes how clinically depressed people actually feel,” says Rubio.
Montgomery also depicts famous people she meets, including Grey Owl and Mary Pickford, and significant world events such as Italy's invasion of Ethiopia and the abdication of King Edward VIII.
During her lifetime, Montgomery wrote 22 novels and 53 years' worth of personal diaries. She also kept extensive journals from the time she was 14. Rubio was asked by Montgomery's son, Dr. Stuart Macdonald, to edit his mother's personal journals. The first volume was published in 1985 by Oxford University Press (Canada) and was a national best-seller, and the subsequent volumes were also highly successful.
The research for these publications was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and U of G.
In 1966, Waterston became the first academic to publish a serious in-depth treatment of Montgomery's work, and she and Rubio have collaborated on writing and editing projects since 1975. They published a short biography on Montgomery called Writing a Life, and Rubio is working on a longer authorized biography of the author.
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