Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344 Embers Search Advanced Search Introduction
While I was studying the life of French Canada in the winter of 1892, in the city of Quebec or in secluded parishes, there was forwarded to me from my London home a letter from Mr. Arrowsmith, the publisher, asking me to write a novel of fifty thousand or sixty thousand words for what was called his Annual. In this Annual had appeared Hugh Conway's 'Called Back' and Anthony Hope's 'Prisoner of Zenda', among other celebrated works of fiction. I cabled my acceptance of the excellent offer made me, and the summer of 1893 found me at Audierne, in Brittany, with some artist friends--more than one of whom has since come to eminence--living what was really an out-door literary life; for the greater part of 'The Trespasser' was written in a high-walled garden on a gentle hill, and the remainder in a little tower-like structure of the villa where I lodged, which was all windows. The latter I only used when it rained, and the garden was my workshop. There were peaches and figs on the walls, pleasant shrubs surrounded me, and the place was ideally quiet and serene. Coffee or tea and toast was served me at 6.30 o'clock A.M., my pad was on my knee at 8, and then there was practically uninterrupted work till 12, when 'dejeuner a la fourchette', with its fresh sardines, its omelettes, and its roast chicken, was welcome. The afternoon was spent on the sea-shore, which is very beautiful at Audierne, and there I watched my friends painting sea-scapes. In the late afternoon came letter-writing and reading, and after a little and simple dinner at 6.30 came bed at 9.45 or thereabouts. In such conditions for many weeks I worked on The Trespasser; and I think the book has an outdoor spirit which such a life would inspire. It was perhaps natural that, having lived in Canada and Australia, and having travelled greatly in all the outer portions of the Empire, I should be interested in and impelled to write regarding the impingement of the outer life of our far dominions, through individual character, upon the complicated, traditional, orderly life of England. That feeling found expression in The Translation of a Savage, and I think that in neither case the issue of the plot or the plot--if such it may be called --nor the main incident, was exaggerated. Whether the treatment was free from exaggeration, it is not my province to say. I only know what I attempted to do. The sense produced by the contact of the outer life with a refined, and perhaps overrefined, and sensitive, not to say meticulous, civilisation, is always more sensational than the touch of the representative of "the thousand years" with the wide, loosely organised free life of what is still somewhat hesitatingly called the Colonies, though the same remark could be applied to all new lands, such as the United States. The representative of the older life makes no signs, or makes little collision at any rate, when he touches the new social organisms of the outer circle. He is not emphatic; he is typical, but not individual; he seeks seclusion in the mass. It is not so with the more dynamic personality of the over-sea citizen. For a time at least he remains in the old civilisation an entity, an isolated, unabsorbed fact which has capacities for explosion. All this was in my mind when The Trespasser was written, and its converse was 'The Pomp of the Lavilettes', which showed the invasion of the life of the outer land by the representative of the old civilisation. I do not know whether I had the thought that the treatment of such themes was interesting or not. The idea of The Trespasser was there in my mind, and I had to use it. At the beginning of one's career, if one were to calculate too carefully, impulse, momentum, daring, original conception would be lost. To be too audacious, even to exaggerate, is no crime in youth nor in the young artist. As a farmer once said to me regarding a frisky mount, it is better to smash through the top bar than to have spring-halt. The Trespasser took its place, and, as I think, its natural place, in the development of my literary life. I did not stop to think whether it was a happy theme or not, or whether it had popular elements. These things did not concern me. When it was written I should not have known what was a popular theme. It was written under circumstances conducive to its artistic welfare; if it has not as many friends as 'The Right of Way' or 'The Seats of the Mighty' or 'The Weavers' or 'The Judgment House', that is not the fault of the public or of the critics. TO DOUGLAS ROBINSON, Esq., AND FRANK A. HILTON, Esq. My dear Douglas and Frank: I feel sure that this dedication will give you as much pleasure as it does me. It will at least be evidence that I do not forget good days in your company here and there in the world. I take pleasure in linking your names; for you, who have never met, meet thus in the porch of a little house that I have built. You, my dear Douglas, will find herein scenes, times, and things familiar to you; and you, my dear Frank, reflections of hours when we camped by an idle shore, or drew about the fire of winter nights, and told tales worth more than this, for they were of the future, and it is of the past. Always sincerely yours, GILBERT PARKER.
Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344 A Lover's Diary Search Advanced Search Introduction
(1909) This book, Northern Lights, belongs to an epoch which is a generation later than that in which Pierre and His People moved. The conditions under which Pierre and Shon McGann lived practically ended with the advent of the railway. From that time forwards, with the rise of towns and cities accompanied by an amazing growth of emigration, the whole life lost much of that character of isolation and pathetic loneliness which marked the days of Pierre. When, in 1905, I visited the Far West again after many years, and saw the strange new life with its modern episode, energy, and push, and realised that even the characteristics which marked the period just before the advent, and just after the advent, of the railway were disappearing, I determined to write a series of stories which would catch the fleeting characteristics and hold something of the old life, so adventurous, vigorous, and individual, before it passed entirely and was forgotten. Therefore, from 1905 to 1909, I kept drawing upon all those experiences of others, from the true tales that had been told me, upon the reminiscences of Hudson's Bay trappers and hunters, for those incidents natural to the West which imagination could make true. Something of the old atmosphere had gone, and there was a stir and a murmur in all the West which broke that grim yet fascinating loneliness of the time of Pierre. Thus it is that Northern Lights is written in a wholly different style from that of Pierre and His People, though here and there, as for instance in A Lodge in the Wilderness, Once at Red Man's River, The Stroke of the Hour, Qu'appelle, and Marcile, the old note sounds, and something of the poignant mystery, solitude, and big primitive incident of the earlier stories appears. I believe I did well--at any rate for myself and my purposes--in writing this book, and thus making the human narrative of the Far West and North continuous from the time of the sixties onwards. So have I assured myself of the rightness of my intention, that I shall publish a novel presently which will carry on this human narrative of the West into still another stage-that of the present, when railways are intersecting each other, when mills and factories are being added to the great grain elevators in the West, and when hundreds and thousands of people every year are moving across the plains where, within my own living time, the buffalo ranged in their millions, and the red men, uncontrolled, set up their tepees. NOTE The tales in this book belong to two different epochs in the life of the Far West. The first five are reminiscent of "border days and deeds"-- of days before the great railway was built which changed a waste into a fertile field of civilisation. The remaining stories cover the period passed since the Royal North-West Mounted Police and the Pullman car first startled the early pioneer, and sent him into the land of the farther North, or drew him into the quiet circle of civic routine and humdrum occupation.--G. P.
A Tale of Love, Laughter and Tears On every height there lies repose, and so must we still be climbing, but alas! I have been climbing a ladder of swords these many years--from a woman's letter (1904) To The Countess of Darnley, Whose Home Contains Many Relics and Memories of the Spacious Times of Queen Elizabeth, the Friend of Michel and Ang le A Note: There will be found a few anachronisms in this tale, but none so important as to give a wrong impression of the events of Queen Elizabeth's reign.
(1896) Being a continuation of the personal histories of Pierre and His People (1892) and the last existing records of Pretty Pierre.
(1896) This tale would never have been written had it not been for the kindness of my distinguished friend Dr. John George Bourinot, C.M.G., of Ottawa, whose studies in parliamentary procedure, the English and Canadian Constitutions, and the history and development of Canada have been of singular benefit to the Dominion and to the Empire. Through Dr. Bourinot's good offices I came to know Mr. James Lemoine, of Quebec, the gifted antiquarian, and President of the Royal Society of Canada. Mr. Lemoine placed in my hands certain historical facts suggestive of romance. Subsequently, Mr. George M. Fairchild, Jr., of Cap Rouge, Quebec, whose library contains a valuable collection of antique Canadian books, maps, and prints, gave me generous assistance and counsel, allowing me "the run" of all his charts, prints, histories, and memoirs. Many of these prints, and a rare and authentic map of Wolfe's operations against Quebec are now reproduced in this novel, and may be considered accurate illustrations of places, people, and events. By the insertion of these faithful historical elements it is hoped to give more vividness to the atmosphere of the time, and to strengthen the verisimilitude of a piece of fiction which is not, I believe, out of harmony with fact.-- Gilbert Parker
(1898) A Romance of Two Kingdoms
Being The Story Of A Matrimonial Deserter.
Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344 Home Authors Shakespeare Religious Reference Quotes Forums Search Periods & Movements Quizzes Summaries Login Literature Network>> Gilbert Parker >> The Pomp of the Lavilettes Search Advanced Search Introduction
(1893) The Translation of a Savage was written in the early autumn of 1893, at Hampstead Heath, where for over twenty years I have gone, now and then, when I wished to be in an atmosphere conducive to composition. Hampstead is one of the parts of London which has as yet been scarcely invaded by the lodging-house keeper. It is very difficult to get apartments at Hampstead; it is essentially a residential place; and, like Chelsea, has literary and artistic character all its own. I think I have seen more people carrying books in their hands at Hampstead than in any other spot in England; and there it was, perched above London, with eyes looking towards the Atlantic over the leagues of land and the thousand leagues of sea, that I wrote 'The Translation of a Savage'. It was written, as it were, in one concentrated effort, a ceaseless writing. It was, in effect, what the Daily Chronicle said of 'When Valmond Came to Pontiac', a tour de force. It belonged to a genre which compelled me to dispose of a thing in one continuous effort, or the impulse, impetus, and fulness of movement was gone. The writing of a book of the kind admitted of no invasion from extraneous sources, and that was why, while writing 'The Translation of a Savage' at Hampstead, my letters were only delivered to me once a week. I saw no friends, for no one knew where I was; but I walked the heights, I practised with my golf clubs on the Heath, and I sat in the early autumn evenings looking out at London in that agony of energy which its myriad lives represented. It was a good time. The story had a basis of fact; the main incident was true. It happened, however, in Michigan rather than in Canada; but I placed the incident in Canada where it was just as true to the life. I was living in Hertfordshire at the time of writing the story, and that is why the English scenes were worked out in Hertfordshire and in London. When I had finished the tale, there came over me suddenly a kind of feeling that the incident was too bold and maybe too crude to be believed, and I was almost tempted to consign it to the flames; but the editor of 'The English Illustrated Magazine', Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke, took a wholly different view, and eagerly published it. The judgment of the press was favourable,--highly so--and I was as much surprised as pleased when Mr. George Moore, in the Hogarth Club one night, in 1894, said to me: "There is a really remarkable play in that book of yours, 'The Translation, of a Savage'." I had not thought up to that time that my work was of the kind which would appeal to George Moore, but he was always making discoveries. Meeting him in Pall Mall one day, he said to me: "My dear fellow, I have made a great discovery. I have been reading the Old Testament. It is magnificent. In the mass of its incoherence it has a series of the most marvellous stories. Do you remember--" etc. Then he came home and had tea with me, revelling, in the meantime, on having discovered the Bible! I cannot feel that 'The Translation of a Savage' has any significance beyond the truthfulness with which I believe it describes the transformation, or rather the evolution, of a primitive character into a character with an intelligence of perception and a sympathy which is generally supposed to be the outcome of long processes of civilisation and culture. The book has so many friends--this has been sufficiently established by the very large sale it has had in cheap editions--that I am still disposed to feel it was an inevitable manifestation in the progress of my art, such as it is. People of diverse conditions of life have found in it something to interest and to stimulate. One of the most volcanic of the Labour members in the House of Commons told me that the violence of his opposition to me in debate on a certain bill was greatly moderated by the fact that I had written 'The Translation of a Savage'; while a certain rather grave duke remarked to me concerning the character of Lali that "She would have been all right anywhere." I am bound to say that he was a duke who, while a young man, knew the wilds of Canada and the United States almost as well as I know Westminster.
(1895) The Story of a Lost Napoleon
Published in 1900, this collection is considered to contain some of Gilbert Parker's finest work. The Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier G.C.M.G. Dear Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Since I first began to write these tales in 1892, I have had it in my mind to dedicate to you the "bundle of life" when it should be complete. It seemed to me--and it seems so still--that to put your name upon the covering of my parcel, as one should say, "In care of," when it went forth, was to secure its safe and considerate delivery to that public of the Empire which is so much in your debt. But with other feelings also do I dedicate this volume to yourself. For many years your name has stood for a high and noble compromise between the temperaments and the intellectual and social habits of two races; and I am not singular in thinking that you have done more than most other men to make the English and French of the Dominion understand each other better. There are somewhat awkward limits to true understanding as yet, but that sympathetic service which you render to both peoples, with a conscientious striving for impartiality, tempers even the wind of party warfare to the shorn lamb of political opposition. In a sincere sympathy with French life and character, as exhibited in the democratic yet monarchical province of Quebec, or Lower Canada (as, historically, I still love to think of it), moved by friendly observation, and seeking to be truthful and impartial, I have made this book and others dealing with the life of the proud province, which a century and a half of English governance has not Anglicised. This series of more or less connected stories, however, has been the most cherished of all my labours, covering, as it has done, so many years, and being the accepted of my anxious judgment out of a much larger gathering, so many numbers of which are retired to the seclusion of copyright, while reserved from publication. In passing, I need hardly say that the "Pontiac" of this book is an imaginary place, and has no association with the real Pontiac of the Province. I had meant to call the volume, "Born with a Golden Spoon," a title stolen from the old phrase, "Born with a golden spoon in the mouth"; but at the last moment I have given the book the name of the tale which is, chronologically, the climax of the series, and the end of my narratives of French Canadian life and character. I had chosen the former title because of an inherent meaning in it relation to my subject. A man born in the purple--in comfort wealth, and secure estate--is said to have the golden spoon in his mouth. In the eyes of the world, however, the phrase has a some what ironical suggestiveness, and to have luxury, wealth, and place as a birthright is not thought to be the most fortunate incident of mortality. My application of the phrase is, therefore, different. I have, as you know, travelled far and wide during the past seventeen years, and though I have seen people as frugal and industrious as the French Canadians, I have never seen frugality and industry associated with so much domestic virtue, so much education and intelligence, and so deep and simple a religious life; nor have I ever seen a priesthood at once so devoted and high-minded in all the concerns the home life of their people, as in French Canada. A land without poverty and yet without riches, French Canada stands alone, too well educated to have a peasantry, too poor to have an aristocracy; as though in her the ancient prayer had been answered "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food convenient for me." And it is of the habitant of Quebec, before a men else, I should say, "Born with the golden spoon in his mouth." To you I come with this book, which contains the first thing I ever wrote out of the life of the Province so dear to you, and the last things also that I shall ever write about it. I beg you to receive it as the loving recreation of one who sympathises with the people of who you come, and honours their virtues, and who has no fear for the unity, and no doubt as to the splendid future, of the nation, whose fibre is got of the two great civilising races of Europe. Lastly, you will know with what admiration and regard I place your name on the fore page of my book, and greet in you the statesman, the litterateur, and the personal friend. Believe me, Dear Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Yours very sincerely, GILBERT PARKER. 20 CARLTON HOUSE TERRACE, LONDON, S. W., 14th August, 1900.