Anne of Ingleside: On Punctuation and Pace

(First things first: Happy 2013! I have sorely neglected this project in the past year — no new posts at all! — and this is me trying to make amends.)

Out of the eight books in the Anne series, it is Anne of Ingleside that is my least favorite. Though full of entertaining and amusing stories of Anne and Gilbert’s brood, what makes the book less enjoyable to read is L.M. Montgomery’s constant use of the ellipsis.

Here’s a sample to refresh your memory:

Dull! Anne almost laughed in her caller’s face. Ingleside dull! With a delicious baby bringing new wonders every day… with visits from Diana and Little Elizabeth and Rebecca Dew to be planned for …with Mrs. Sam Elison of the Upper Glen on Gilbert’s hands with a disease only three people in the world have ever known to have before… with Walter starting school…

As you can see it in the quoted excerpt, Montgomery excessively uses ellipses when she could have very well used commas. This ‘style’ is prevalent throughout the entire book. What this does, for me, is slow the pace of the story and create unnecessary long pauses between complete thoughts. Whenever I reread Anne of Ingleside, I get impatient with the writing — it seems as if every character (as well as the narrator) is constantly taking mental breaks.

I’ve often wondered about why this constant use of ellipses is only present in Anne of Ingleside and not in any of the other Anne books. It is interesting to note that Anne of Ingleside is the last of the series to be published, most likely also last to be written. Perhaps Montgomery tried to experiment with punctuation during the latter period of her writing career (she would soon die a few years after the publication of Anne of Ingleside). Or maybe there wasn’t enough time and attention put into editing it.

Also, Anne of Ingleside seems to lack a level of coherence and tightness evident in the other books. It’s like Montgomery compiled several stories of Anne’s children into one book. Nevertheless, Anne of Ingleside still possesses some pleasurable aspects such as the antics of the infuriating Aunt Mary Maria and the return of Rebecca Dew.

Do you have any theories on Montgomery’s overuse of ellipses in this book? Does it hamper your enjoyment of it in any way? What is your least favorite Anne book? I’d really like to know 🙂

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