Sarah Orne Jewett
January 13, 2012 7:43 PM   Subscribe

... [Sarah Orne] Jewett's gifts have always been recognized by a select few, and continue to be. [The Country of the] Pointed Firs, especially, was immediately recognized as a major achievement. Henry James called it, perfectly, “a beautiful little quantum of achievement.” Willa Cather listed it as one of her three great American novels...
posted by Trurl (13 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Terry Heller was one of my advisers at Coe. The first time he offered a class on Jewett, I was in it.

What a small world, this is.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:30 PM on January 13, 2012

How odd. I've just recently been thinking about doing some recordings of her work for Librivox. I love her short stories.
posted by book 'em dano at 8:35 PM on January 13, 2012

Free on the Kindle, putting it next on my reading list, thanks!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:38 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wrote my senior seminar paper (read: low-end thesis) on this fine lady in waaaay back in 1991, graduated, and promptly forgot about her. I'm a lapsed English major, what can I say.

Thanks for the reminder. Jewett is awesome.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 8:38 PM on January 13, 2012

Never really got into Pointed Firs. But there's this little short story she wrote, The Flight of Betsey Lane, which is just delightful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 PM on January 13, 2012

The Country of the Pointed Firs, though also support Melville House.
posted by stbalbach at 9:19 PM on January 13, 2012

Loved the County of Pointed Firs. My dad hooked me up.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:19 PM on January 13, 2012

I was so intrigued by the praise that I stopped to read it. It was lovely- it reminded me of Flora Thompson's work.
posted by winna at 10:22 PM on January 13, 2012

And I was reminded of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman's work. A New England Nun and Other Stories as well as fifteen (!) more collections can be found online here.
posted by likeso at 3:42 AM on January 14, 2012

The one thing I remember about The Country of the Pointed Firs is the nightmare interpolation into the middle of what can't really be called the "plot" of the book, which ran something vaguely like this:

introduction to the village
visit to little old lady
afternoon spent by the seashore
church service
family picnic
trip to a quaint island
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 5:24 AM on January 14, 2012

Funny, Sarah Orne Jewett came up recently on The Guardian books blog because of this doll made in her likeness. Sarah Crown, the books editor (and, incidentally, one of the better literary journalists out there), ended up ordering The Country of Pointed Firs. I've been curious to see if there's a follow-up blogpost about the book. I've been meaning to read it for years, but have never gotten around to it. Next time I go to the library I better look out for it.
posted by Kattullus at 6:17 AM on January 14, 2012

'A beautiful little quantum of achievement' is a somewhat double-edged compliment. Looking up the full passage I see that the Master also described Jewett as 'mistress of an art of fiction all her own, even though of a minor compass', which makes me think of John Gielgud's alleged remark to Alec Guinness: 'I can't understand why you want to play big parts, dear boy; why don't you stick to the little people you do so well?'
posted by verstegan at 6:47 AM on January 14, 2012

This novel is great. I can't get the first link to work.
posted by OmieWise at 5:49 PM on January 26, 2012

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