The Japan News,
The Yomiuri Shimbun,
1-7-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku,
I have liked Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables for a long time. It was first read aloud to me by one of my elementary school teachers - a tough but adored woman. Later I read it myself and have re-read it many times. Each reading reminds me of my teacher and my childhood days. Modern life, or maybe just middle-aged life make me feel nostalgic for simpler times. Not Anne Shirley’s time (1908), but rather my own childhood, sitting at my desk in class listening to my teacher’s voice. Anne might be the archetypal Canadian. She occupies a cultural space similar to Tom Sawyer-Huckleberry Finn in America, and Botchan, or Wagahai wa neko de aru among Japanese. When Montgomery wrote, the entire population of Canada was less than the population of Toronto today, which makes me reflect about culture and creativity. Canada still has a small population for its size, which means that despite being a large country it is, in fact, a small community. In that respect, we still feel the proximity of Anne Shirley’s world - the small community.
Anne comes from the dawn of contemporary Canada. Automobiles, electricity and phones existed but were only just beginning to penetrate her life. Yet her world remains recognizable and familiar - the technology, of course, but most of all enduring themes like school and family, love, fear, hope, anticipation, disappointment, competition, jealousy, separation and loss, plus all the intermediary supporting and uplifting human relationships. Once very popular in Japan, I think Anne was welcomed here for her ethical virtues, primarily her filial piety and devotion to her adoptive family, the Cuthberts, despite not being their blood relation.
As a holiday read, or a deserted island companion Anne of Green Gables gives me great comfort.