Voyages: Short Narratives of Susanna Moodie

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University of Ottawa Press, 1991 - Fiction - 256 pages
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Susanna Moodie is, of course, best known for her books Roughing It in the Bush and Life in the Clearings, which are largely comprised of short sketches that she had previously published. What is not widely known, however, is that Mrs. Moodie had a long and prolific literary career in which short sketches and tales were among her favoured genres. This book offers a selection of these narratives, unavailable in print since the nineteenth century but essential to an understanding of Susanna Moodie's work.

In her writing, Mrs. Moodie repeatedly explores the position of women in nineteenth-century society. She was profoundly influenced by her family s early misfortune and consequent fall from gentry status, her gender, and her husband's decision to emigrate to Canada. These concerns recur with such frequency and insistence in the narratives collected here that it becomes impossible to doubt the importance of them in her life and in her writing out of that fife. Most of the stories are concerned with emigration, and are set in the country from which emigration takes place or is contemplated. Financial disaster and loss of social status are the causes of emigration for characters in "The Vanquished Lion," "The Broken Mirror," and many of the other narratives.

This collection will be of interest to those who wish to understand more fully Roughing It in the Bush, the problems of class and gender as they affect writers, and the difficulties of immigrants in a developed colonial society. It will also be of interest to those seeking to understand the development of short fiction or those who simply like reading it.


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Page 97 - ... convinced that something dreadful had occurred. When the full horrors of the scene were presented to the sight of the terror-stricken group; their grief burst forth in tears and lamentations. Atkins alone retained his presence of mind. Dragging the panther from the remains of the unfortunate Mrs. Steel, he beckoned to one of his sons, and suggested to him the propriety of instantly burying the disfigured and mutilated body, before the feelings of her husband and children were agonized by the...
Page 247 - They were in the little work-room together, and Murdoch, leaning back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head, looked before him without replying, except by a slight knitting of his brows.
Page 88 - It wants no proof, dear mother," said the young girl, flinging her round, but sunburnt arms, about her worthy parent's neck. " Your precious love is worth the wealth of the whole world to me. I know how fond you and dear father are of me, and I am more than satisfied.
Page 5 - ... any temporal wants but their own. To convert neats' leather into shoes and sandals, for their accommodation, is as difficult a task as bringing over so many Turks and heretics to the true faith; and they are more nice to fit withal, than the vainest damsel that ever sported a smart foot and ankle. They live on the general contributions of the public, and take good care to want for nothing that can be obtained by way of extortion. O, 'tis a dainty life!
Page 163 - Oh ! can you leave your native land An exile's bride to be ; Your mother's home, and cheerful hearth, To tempt the main with me ; Across the wide and stormy sea To trace our foaming track, And know the wave that bears us on Will ne'er convey us back ? And can you in Canadian woods With me the harvest bind, Nor feel one lingering, sad regret For all you leave behind...
Page 88 - ... Annie is right," said Steel, dropping his knife and holdiug out his arms for a caress. " The world could not purchase such love a* we feel for her; and let us bless God that, poor though we be, we are all here to-night, well and strong, ay, and rich, in spite of our homely fare, in each other's affections. What say you, my boys...
Page 92 - His mother listened to these sallies with a delighted smile; and eren the grave yeoman's brow relaxed from its habitual frown. Annie entered warmly into all her brother's plans; and if he laid the foundation of this fine castle in the air, she certainly provided the cement and all the lighter materials. As their long route led them further from the habitations of men, and deeper and deeper into the wilderness; the stern realities of their solitary locality became hourly more apparent to the poor...
Page 163 - Oh! can you leave your native land An exile's bride to be; Your mother's home, and cheerful hearth, To tempt the main with me; Across the wide and stormy sea To trace our foaming track, And know the wave that heaves us on Will never bear us back? And can you in Canadian woods With me the harvest bind, Nor feel one lingering, sad regret For all you leave behind?
Page 87 - THE WELL IN THE WILDERNESS. A TALE OF THE PRAIRIE. FOUNDED ON FACT. BY MRS. MOODIE. AUTHOR OF "ROUGHING IT IN THE BUSH." In vain you urge me to forget That fearful night — it haunts me yet ; And stampt into my heart and brain, The awful memory will remain ; Yea, e'en in sleep that ghostly sight, Returns to shake my soul each night. — SM RICHARD STEEL was the son of one of those small landholders who are fast disappearing from Merry Old England. His father left him the sole possessor of twenty-five...
Page 94 - Dear mother," said Richard, faintly, " don't go, father will be in soon ; we can wait till then." " Oh! the poor dear child is burning!" cried Abigail, "she cannot wait till then ; do, neighbour, go for the water, I will stay with the children, and put out the milk while you are away.

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About the author (1991)

Susanna Moodie, born in Suffolk, England, was the youngest of five daughters, four of whom became writers of fiction and poetry. (Moodie's elder sister, Catharine Parr Traill, a lesser-known British colonial author, wrote The Backwoods of Canada). Before immigrating to Canada, in 1832, Moodie penned numerous poems and stories, all heavily didactic and decidedly second-rate. However, once she had settled in Upper Canada (now Ontario) with her husband, John Dunbar Moodie, the harsh life of the settler provoked a more realistic literary response. Her autobiographical Roughing It in the Bush, published in 1852, is a series of sketches stitched into a larger narrative. It is a book expressing the hopes and defeat, the pride and the anger the early settlers felt toward their new home, the Canadian bush. A sequel, Life in the Clearings versus the Bush, appeared in 1853. Throughout her life Susanna Moodie's literary output continued to be prolific. Yet it is the frank and colorful quality of Roughing It that has placed her in the forefront of early Canadian writers.

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