Showing posts with label The Last Gift. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Last Gift. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Last Gift: The Christmas Stories of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman


Coming this October from Louisiana State University Press! This is the first anthology of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's extensive and neglected holiday writings—including one previously lost story! Here's the official blurb:
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930) was one of the most popular American writers at the turn of the twentieth century, and her annual Christmas stories appeared in magazines and periodicals across the globe. Since then, the extraordinary stories that once delighted her legions of fans every festive season have gone largely out of print and unread. Now, for the first time, The Last Gift presents a collection of Freeman’s best Christmas writing, introducing these funny, poignant, provocative, and surprisingly timely holiday tales to a new generation of readers.
Here's the catalog copy:


And here's some advance praise from some wonderful Freeman experts!

“Thomas Ruys Smith’s edition of Freeman’s Christmas stories is a revelation! All our presumptions about holiday stories being drenched in sentimentality are demolished by the ways in which Freeman probes the multiple meanings inherent in the acts of giving and receiving gifts and exposes the forms of both solitude and communion inherent in Christmas. This collection transforms our understanding of the season and enhances the literary reputation of this remarkable author.”—Alfred Bendixen, executive director of the American Literature Association
“A lovely and varied collection of Freeman’s often-neglected Christmas stories. Smith’s lively introduction contextualizes Freeman’s portrayal of the holiday season, in all of its complexity, and the domestic tensions that Christmas evoked for nineteenth-century women.”—Leah Blatt Glasser, author of In a Closet Hidden: The Life and Work of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
The Last Gift will prove anyone wrong who once said with Mark Twain, ‘I hate Xmas stories.’ Funny and grave, delicate and ironical, Freeman’s Christmas stories talk about old age and queer desires, ecoanxiety and the love of trees, class tension, capitalistic drives, and the beauty of an old child braving it all to have her ‘Christmas once.’ A gift for all, and for all seasons.”—C├ęcile Roudeau, coeditor of New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: Reading with and against the Grain

 “Celebrated in her own time not only as a New England regionalist but also as writer of popular Christmas stories, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman challenged the genre's sentimental limits by questioning the relationships between charity and obligation, theft and gift, and transgression and redemption which her characters experience at Christmas. As Thomas Ruys Smith argues in his excellent, lively, and comprehensive introduction to these twenty-five stories, some published for the first time since their original appearance, Freeman's unjustly neglected Christmas stories reveal a new understanding both of the genre's significance and of Freeman's career as a professional writer.”Donna Campbell, author of Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women’s Writing.

“Finally, a volume that reprints Freeman’s Christmas fare. Freeman’s Christmas stories are inventive and experimental, emphasizing the emotional and practical complexities of the holiday, with profound implications for gendered labour, class inequality, the building of community, and the pleasures and perils of consumption. The impressive introduction frames the stories within the history of the holiday and Freeman’s delight in its intrigue.”Stephanie Palmer, co-editor of New Perspectives on Mary E. Wilkins Freeman: Reading with and against the Grain

Looking forward to reintroducing these stories to a new host of readers this Christmas! More info here, and you can pre-order both ebook and paperback from Amazon here.