Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gene Stratton-Porter

I've been a fan of Gene Stratton-Porter since I was very young and stories that center around nature and the environment may be helped influence me in my love for the outdoors and those who live in it. Books like A Girl of the Limberlost, The Keeper of the Bees, The Song of the Cardinal, and the Harvester provide a glimpse into characters who strive to maintain their naturalist lifestyle often against the odds of progress in the modern world. Besides the genre of writing who wouldn't have respect for a woman who wrote books in the late 1880s to early 1920s who hyphenated her last name!

I just finished reading Her Father's Daughter, one of her books that I hadn't read before. A story about an orphan living in So Cal who makes her way by writing articles for a regional magazine about plants in the area that you could use for food or medicinal purposes. She gains the friendship of the most popular white guy in the school who is struggling to be at the head of the class with the competition being an Asian boy. The story takes place after World War I ends and jobs are scare when racism was rampant. I was shocked when I started picking up on the anti-any-color-but-white dialogue. Come to find out that her work was influenced by a situation that had occurred in LA where she was living, similar to that in the story. She was concerned about not the survival of the white race, but the dominance of the white man. She didn't only fictionalize the incident, but there are pages and pages of monologue expressing her concern.

Since reading this novel I'm making it a point to read some of her other works just to see if I can see a progression from when she first started publishing to the end. Of those books I've already read, Her Father's Daughter falls towards the end of her writing career with The Keeper of the Bees being one of her last publications. Its been awhile since I read the bee book but I think I would remember if she had written with such conviction about whose passion I find distasteful.

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