chapter  1
12 Pages

A New “Bend in the Road”: Navigating Nationhood through L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables


National identity is fostered on several fronts, but a nation’s literature serves a crucial role in the formation of a country’s offi cial identity. “Offi cial” refers to the concept promoted by a nation’s government-through its educational mandates and endowments to the arts. It also signals the fact that literature can resist homogeneous depictions of national identity, focusing instead on the complexities of difference. “Offi cial” national identities highlight the shared traits and values of the group. Joep Leerssen’s assertion that literature “often counts as the very formulation of . . . cultural identity” is a bold, yet compelling, claim (268). If reading is simply viewed as a passive activity, rather than a thought-provoking process, then the link between literature and national identity may seem tenuous. If, however, the accumulative effect of observing what it is to “be” Canadian or British or any other nationality is considered, the infl uence of literature on national identity becomes apparent.