Unlike other young women of her generation, who were “bred up from childhood to sit behind tea-tables and say the right things to tea-drinkers,” Sylvia Marshall—the “twig” of this novel—was reared to think for herself and to trust her own instincts and experience. This, coupled with her passionate temperament, makes Sylvia a compelling figure as she resists efforts to mold her with every rebellious fiber of her independent nature.
Sylvia’s home is a Montessori home, where everyone takes part in household tasks, and the children learn by being included in adult activities. Without making a show of being different, her father, a popular professor at the Midwest state university in La Chance, lives the life of the mind in a rambling farmhouse instead of on a faculty row among his upwardly mobile colleagues; her mother’s wardrobe is more suited to canning tomatoes than to impressing sophisticated “town set.”
Although Sylvia adapts outwardly to her parents’ values, inwardly she suffers because of her family’s difference from both town and university standards. A dazzling occasional presence in her life is the flamboyant Aunt Victoria, who keeps a mansion in Lydford, Vermont, and an apartment in Paris. Sylvia responds to such luxury, and her attempts to evade moral questions concerning the distribution of wealth lend a human aspect to a social dilemma.
First published in 1915, The Bent Twig is the first of Dorothy Canfield’s novels to give fictional form to the Montessori method and to reflect the insights into education and human development that she gained in Rome while visiting Maria Montessori. The novel’s concerns with gender roles, race relations, substance abuse, the environment, and the welfare of children remain contemporary and still speak to us across the years.
Dorothy Canfield (1879-1958) was a popular writer in the first half of the century. The daughter of the president of the Ohio State University, she wrote works of fiction and nonfiction that brought widespread attention to the Montessori method of child development. Her nonfiction books, written under her married name of Dorothy Canfield Fisher, include A Montessori Mother (1912), A Montessori Manual (1913), Mothers and Children (1914), and Self-Reliance (1916). More info →
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It is 1883, and all of Klara Bozic’s girlish dreams have come crashing down as she arrives in Thirsty, a gritty steel town carved into the slopes above the Monongahela River just outside of Pittsburgh. She has made a heartbreaking discovery. Her new husband Drago is as abusive as the father she left behind in Croatia.
The seventeen narratives of The Common Lot and Other Stories, published in popular magazines across the United States between 1908 and 1921 and collected here for the first time, are driven by Emma Bell Miles’s singular vision of the mountain people of her home in southeastern Tennessee. That vision is shaped by her strong sense of social justice, her naturalist’s sensibility, and her insider’s perspective.Women
Of trailblazing Polish novelist Eliza Orzeszkowa’s many works of social realism, Marta is among the best known, but until now it has not been available in English. Easily a peer of The Awakening and A Doll’s House, the novel was well ahead of English literature of its time in attacking the ways the labor market failed women.
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