Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy (Penguin Classics) by Jean Webster

By Jean Webster

One of many nice novels of yankee girlhood, Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs (1912) follows the adventures of an orphan named Judy Abbott, whose letters to her nameless male benefactor hint her improvement as an self sufficient philosopher and author. Its sequel, Dear Enemy (1915), follows the growth of Judy's former orphanage, now run through her buddy Sallie McBride, who struggles to offer her younger fees desire and a brand new lifestyles.

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By contrast, a discourse of geographical materialism would seek to restore these spatial dynamics to American literature. In an era of global warming and various other forms of transnational circulation, when issues of the environment cannot be reduced simply to local or national specificities, such a dissolution of spatial relations into “negative geography” must surely appear a parochial strategy. S. literature has always been an inbred tendency toward a relatively constricted theoretical matrix, with the culture’s own distinct preference for familiar terms of reference and supposedly natural affinities with the native soil engendering a self-perpetuating loop through which American writers were critically validated for being identifiably American.

Guy can push a button in New York and move a billion dollars to Tokyo before you blink an eye. We’ve got a world market now. And that’s good for some. In the end, you’ve gotta believe it’s good for America. . I’ll fight and worry and sweat and bleed to get the money to make education a lifetime thing in this country, to give you the support you need to move on up. But you’ve got to do the heavy lifting your own selves. I can’t do it for you, and I know it’s not gonna be easy. (161–62) Stanton (or Clinton) deliberately positions himself here in relation to the flexible conditions of the global marketplace, the realm of outsourcing and transnationalization.

Ignorance in Byrd’s world involves an incapacity to cope with strangeness, as when he observes how local inhabitants stared at his surveying party “with as much curiosity as if we had lately landed from Bantam or Morocco” (196). Moreover, Byrd’s 40 • Chapter 1 unabashedly neoclassical style of tropological parallelisms, predicated on a rhetoric of symmetry and balance, works as a perfect counterpart to this expansive transnational perspective, since he is concerned always to balance different parts of his conceptual and spatial hemisphere against each other.

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