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not even a question of reading

back cover (detail, 90º cw; distortion courtesy CoLibri Cover System protector)
Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909 *). A Marsh Island (1885)
Harvard (Schlesinger) Library copy, digitized 15 April 2008

“...but the cognoscenti no longer cared. Farming had not made marshes modern, safe, and prosperous, and indeed this failure made them almost frightening, as frightening as failure.

“By 1885, when Sarah Orne Jewett explored the salt-marsh world in a novel, A Marsh Island, both painters and farmers had shifted perspective, although so subtle did Jewett find the shift that it forms the spine of the novel. From the first lines of her story, when the local folks dismiss ‘with some contempt the bit of scenery’ chosen by a wandering painter as his subject, the declining status of the salt marshes as artistic material grows ever clearer... Jewett’s painter falls in love, in his bid to paint the marshes, even in his attempt to walk about the marshes... he is clearly a dilettante, a painter of means but little energy, a painter content with salt marshes...”

John Stilgoe, from the “Salt Marshes” chapter in his Alongshore (1994) : 106-107

several scans of A Marsh Island via archive.org

9 March 2017

dilettantism; marsh; marshes; spine
Sarah Orne Jewett; John R. Stilgoe