TORONTO - A new image of Canada's most beloved literary orphan has Canadians seeing red, but not where they're supposed to.
new edition of "Anne of Green Gables" depicts the notoriously youthful
and ruddy-headed heroine as a curvaceous blond teen, sparking a fierce
backlash from scholars and casual readers alike.
the cover - which shows the heroine reclining against a hay stack, clad
in a plaid shirt and smiling suggestively - saying it is a far cry from
the feisty, 19th-century 11-year-old brought to life in the pages of
L.M. Montgomery's classic series of novels.
image appears on the cover of a Three in One edition produced by
CreateSpace, a subsidiary of the Amazon group of companies that allows
people to self-publish their material.
CreateSpace did not respond to requests for comment, but readers of their products were not so reticent.
who is that girl? Definitely not Anne!" wrote one reviewer on the
book's Amazon.com page. "The books are wonderful and do not deserve this
disgrace of a cover."
Many readers voiced shock and disgust that
a beloved part of their childhood was receiving a more provocative
treatment, with several arguing the updated image would send a negative
message to future readers.
Others argued the picture, which
flatly contradicts many textual references to Anne's appearance, amount
to character assassination of a figure known for her vivid imagination
and knack of defying convention.
"What a different life Anne
would have led if she had been the peachy, buxom, gold-tressed maiden
that graces the cover of this edition," one reader wrote. "Anne's fiery
hair, unfortunate complexion and gangly build define her character...for
she learns to cultivate ideals of inner and outer beauty."
picture made a splash on social media as well, where Twitter users
heaped nearly universal scorn on the image and even took to dubbing it
"Anne Hathaway of Green Gables."
Nick Mount, Canadian literature
professor at the University of Toronto, suspects the controversial photo
was used in part to contravene strict copyright protections.
Montgomery's text - originally published in 1908 - is in the public
domain and therefore fair game for self-publishing companies, the
traditional image of the red-headed, pig-tailed Anne is owned jointly by
the province of Prince Edward Island and the heirs to the author's
But Mount, too, joined the chorus of those decrying the
cover. By portraying Anne as a rural bombshell who "looks like Daisy
Duke," the publishers have come close to defacing a Canadian cultural
icon, he said.
"If there's any one book that Canadians, even
today in this generation, continue to have in common, it's 'Anne of
Green Gables," he said, "so messing with this particular image is asking
Neither Montgomery's heirs nor the Anne of Green
Gables Licensing Authority, which is responsible for official Anne
imagery, responded to requests for comment.
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