Chase, Mary Ellen: Windswept
(researched by Sarah Creedon)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Mary Ellen Chase. Windswept. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1941. Copyright: Mary Ellen Chase, 1941. Parallel First Edition: Publisher: Council on Books in Wartime. Armed Services Edition, 1941. "Published by arrangement with the Macmillan company."
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition is published in blue trade cloth binding with dust jacket.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
227 leaves, pp. [7] 3-16 [2] 17-78 [2] 79-210 [2] 211-310 [2] 311-440.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
Includes advertisement by publisher of other works by Mary Ellen Chase. On the fifth page (unnumbered), there is a quote from Sir Thomas Brown. Page 7 (unnumbered) includes a dedication to Eleanor Goddard Daniels, and the ninth page (unnumbered) includes a one-page Foreword by Mary Ellen Chase. Also, the dust jacket includes a summary of the novel and praise for the author.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
The book contains illustrated end papers ( blue and white sketching) and an illustrated dust jacket (multi-color seashore landscape) by Grevis Melville.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Book size: 140 mm x 213 mm Text size (covering one page): 102 mm x 164 mm 105R Readability of the text is very good. The book contains large margins and sufficient spacing between both lines of text and individual letters. Each chapter is clearly marked with a numeral. A maximum of 31 lines of text exists on each page. The condition of the printed text and paper composing the book is excellent. The book is divided into five sections: Prologue, The Inheritance, The Posession: 1881-1883, 1891-1907, 1918-1939. Each section is divided into paragraphs, and there are two or three words in all capital letters at the beginning of the sections. The text of the title page for each section is in all capital letters and bold type.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Wove paper is used in the first edition. The paper is slightly yellowed at the edges, but in near-perfect condition. There are no tears or markings on the pages of the book.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is made of calico-textured cloth, not embossed, and is a medium-bluish color. Stamped on the binding, in gold print, is the title, author and publisher: Windswept |MARY ELLEN CHASE | MACMILLAN. On the cover of the book there is more gold stamping, in the illustrated form of a lighthouse landscape. The white endpapers are illustrated with a blue and white landscape sketching by Grevis Melville.
12 Transcription of title page
WINDSWEPT | rule: 31mm | BY | MARY ELLEN CHASE | NEW YORK | THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1941 Title Page Verso Transcription: Copyright, 1941 by | MARY ELLEN CHASE | rule: 8 mm |All rights reserved- no part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine or newspaper. | FIRST PRINTING | PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA |AMERICAN BOOK ñ STRATFORD PRESS, INC., NEW YORK.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Information on manuscript holdings is not available at this time.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Quote by Sir Thomas Brown, from Urn Burial, on fifth page reads: "Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us."
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
There was a second edition printed by Macmillan Co. in 1941. Also, an Armed Services Edition (E-142) was "Published by arrangement with the Macmillan company" by the Council on Books in Wartime, 1944.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
As found in Publisher's Weekly, October 1941- June 1942: First Printing: 25,000 copies Second Printing: 50,000 copies Third Printing: 25,000 copies Fourth Printing: 25,000 copies Eighteenth Priting: unknown Twenty-fourth Printing: unknown
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
The only other edition found by another publisher was: Collins, 1942 (London). 317 pp., 20cm.
6 Last date in print?
The most recent printing found was from the year 1971, by Macmillan Company.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
According to Hackett's 80 Years of Best Sellers, Windswept was ranked #10 on the best seller list for the year 1941, and #6 for the year 1942. The book did not surpass one million copies sold, however, and no record of total copies sold was found.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Unavailable. The price per copy in 1941, as listed in Publisher's Weekly, was $2.75.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
9. Advertisement in Publisher's Weekly, Oct. 18, 1941: "Ö.and, the great novel of this year 1941 will be WINDSWEPT By Mary Ellen Chase which will be published November 12th , Price $2.75. (Bottom left corner): First Printing 25,000 Second Printing 50,000" Publisher's Weekly, Nov. 15, 1941: "ÖBUT, the great novel of this year 1941 will be Mary Ellen Chase's Greatest Achievement WINDSWEPT [November 12th, Price $2.75} 75,000 before publication! "A rare quality found only in really great books" - Veronica Hutchinson (Halle Bros., Cleveland)" Publisher's Weekly, Nov. 29, 1941: "America is being WINDSWEPT MARY ELLEN CHASE'S greatest achievement is surpassing even the best bookdealer forecasts! Third Printing, within week of publication, 25,000 copies, brings total printings to 100,000 and this "wind" has just started to sweep! "Windswept-a symbol of the kind of life America at its wisest can produce." $2.75 WATCH YOUR STOCK!" Publisher's Weekly, Dec. 27, 1941: "In 1942ÖWINDSWEPT will continue to receive the sweeping, sustained, national promotion whjch made it THE NOVEL OF 1941. Our records and yours show that, without exception, such support of a Macmillan Leader has enabled it to at least duplicate its Fall sales in the following Spring season. -GONE WITH THE WIND -ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO -HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY are memorable examples. Our new campaign starts with the New Year. Watch Your Stock"
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
11. One promotional activity, advertised in the Publisher's Weekly (Oct.25, 1941), is "an author's autographing party, scheduled for November 15th at Marshall Field's". Also noted in Publisher's Weekly: "Macmillan goes all out on an enormous campaign to surpass the sales of Miss Chase's previous best sellers, "Mary Peters," and others."
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
N/A
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
13. German Translation: Stormhallan. Uppsala: J.A. Lindblads Forlag, 1943. pp.338; 23cm.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
The writer and educator Mary Ellen Chase was born in Blue Hill, Maine, on February 24, 1887 to Edward Everett, a lawyer, and Edith Lord Chase. She spent her childhood in Maine, and attended the University of Maine as an undergraduate, completing her education there in 1909. In 1913, she traveled to Germany to perform a graduate study. She later attended the University of Minnesota, from which she graduated with an M.A. in 1918 and a Ph.D. in 1922. Her years of formal education were completed in England, where she performed a postdoctoral study from 1923-1926. During her years in both undergraduate and graduate schools, Mary Ellen Chase gained much experience in the education field by holding a variety of teaching positions. Her first job, which was strongly encouraged by her father, was in a rural, one-room district school in South Brookfield, Maine from 1906-1907. She later taught at the progressive Hillside Home School in Wisconsin, followed by positions at a private girls' school in Chicago, and at a school in Montana. From 1918 to 1926, she served as instructor and professor of English at the University of Minnesota. In 1926, she accepted a position at Smith College, where she remained until her retirement in 1955. Her field of expertise was nineteenth century prose writers, which she generally taught in the classroom three days a week, spending the rest of her time writing and giving lectures. Mary Ellen Chase's early childhood and experiences in the northeastern United States are reflected in many of her writings. Her first piece published, however, was a short story about football, sold to the American Boy for $17 when she was 21 years old. To finance her education, Chase continued to write short stories during college. The writing and publishing of children's literature marked the start of her career as an author, and books such as The Girl from Big Horn Country (1916), Mary Christmas (1926) and The Silver Shell (1930) were well received. Her familiarity with Maine, and fondness for that area, is reflected in many of her novels and stories. Two of her most successful novels, Mary Peters (1934) and Silas Crockett (1935) both centered around seafaring families from Maine (Britannica Online). Her bestseller, Windswept, was published in 1941, and also takes place on the coast of Maine. The author rewrote the Tristan and Isolde legend, incorporating a New England setting, in her popular novel Dawn in Lyonesse (1938). She also authored three autobiographical works that reflect her early experiences in Maine: A Goodly Heritage (1932), A Goodly Fellowship (1939), and The White Gate: Adventures in the Imagination of a Child (1954). Her interest in England is reflected in her collection of short stories entitled This England (1936), which was published in Great Britain as In England Now, and includes humorous essays on topics such as the weather, geography, manners, food and transportation of England (Current Biography, 162). Beyond the juvenile literature, novel and autobiography genres, Mary Ellen Chase produced essays, biographies, literary criticisms, translations of books in the Bible and other religious documents, textbooks, compilations, newspaper/periodical stories and reviews and also served as an editor. During her lifetime she published thirty-five books. Among the awards received by Chase in recognition of both her literary and teaching accomplishments are literary honors from the University of Maine (1929), Bowdoin College (1933), Colby College (1937), Northeastern University (1948), Smith College (1949), Wilson College (1957), and Goucher College (1960). She was awarded with the distinction of professor emeritus from Smith College from 1955-1973. She received the Constance Lindsay Skinner Award from the Woman's National Book Association in 1956, and received the Hale Award in 1959, "given annually to a distinguished writer with a connection to New England" (Waterboro Online). One of her students at Smith College, Lee Kingman, won a Vogue essay contest by entering a piece entitled "Pamela's Socks and the Roman Emperors," about her teacher, Mary Ellen Chase (Waterboro Online). Two biographies have been written about the life and career of Mary Ellen Chase: A Lantern in the Wind?The Life of Mary Ellen Chase (1887-1973) by Elienne Squire in 1995, and Feminist Convert: A Portrait of Mary Ellen Chase, written by Evelyn Chase and J. Daniel Hyman in 1988 Her other interests, beyond writing and teaching, included gardening and bird study. Mary Ellen Chase also enjoyed traveling and spent many summers in England, away from her permanent residence in Massachusetts. She was of the Episcopalian faith and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She died in Northampton, Massachusetts on July 28, 1973. Sources: Waterboro Public Library Online: Maine Writers Index "Mary Ellen Chase," http://www.waterboro.lib.me.us/maineaut/c.html Britannica Online: Women in American History "Chase, Mary Ellen," http://www.eb.com:180/women/articles/Chase_Mary_Ellen.html The writer and educator Mary Ellen Chase was born in Blue Hill, Maine, on February 24, 1887 to Edward Everett, a lawyer, and Edith Lord Chase. She spent her childhood in Maine, and attended the University of Maine as an undergraduate, completing her education there in 1909. In 1913, she traveled to Germany to perform a graduate study. She later attended the University of Minnesota, from which she graduated with an M.A. in 1918 and a Ph.D. in 1922. Her years of formal education were completed in England, where she performed a postdoctoral study from 1923-1926. During her years in both undergraduate and graduate schools, Mary Ellen Chase gained much experience in the education field by holding a variety of teaching positions. Her first job, which was strongly encouraged by her father, was in a rural, one-room district school in South Brookfield, Maine from 1906-1907. She later taught at the progressive Hillside Home School in Wisconsin, followed by positions at a private girls' school in Chicago, and at a school in Montana. From 1918 to 1926, she served as instructor and professor of English at the University of Minnesota. In 1926, she accepted a position at Smith College, where she remained until her retirement in 1955. Her field of expertise was nineteenth century prose writers, which she generally taught in the classroom three days a week, spending the rest of her time writing and giving lectures. Mary Ellen Chase's early childhood and experiences in the northeastern United States are reflected in many of her writings. Her first piece published, however, was a short story about football, sold to the American Boy for $17 when she was 21 years old. To finance her education, Chase continued to write short stories during college. The writing and publishing of children's literature marked the start of her career as an author, and books such as The Girl from Big Horn Country (1916), Mary Christmas (1926) and The Silver Shell (1930) were well received. Her familiarity with Maine, and fondness for that area, is reflected in many of her novels and stories. Two of her most successful novels, Mary Peters (1934) and Silas Crockett (1935) both centered around seafaring families from Maine (Britannica Online). Her bestseller, Windswept, was published in 1941, and also takes place on the coast of Maine. The author rewrote the Tristan and Isolde legend, incorporating a New England setting, in her popular novel Dawn in Lyonesse (1938). She also authored three autobiographical works that reflect her early experiences in Maine: A Goodly Heritage (1932), A Goodly Fellowship (1939), and The White Gate: Adventures in the Imagination of a Child (1954). Her interest in England is reflected in her collection of short stories entitled This England (1936), which was published in Great Britain as In England Now, and includes humorous essays on topics such as the weather, geography, manners, food and transportation of England (Current Biography, 162). Beyond the juvenile literature, novel and autobiography genres, Mary Ellen Chase produced essays, biographies, literary criticisms, translations of books in the Bible and other religious documents, textbooks, compilations, newspaper/periodical stories and reviews and also served as an editor. During her lifetime she published thirty-five books. Among the awards received by Chase in recognition of both her literary and teaching accomplishments are literary honors from the University of Maine (1929), Bowdoin College (1933), Colby College (1937), Northeastern University (1948), Smith College (1949), Wilson College (1957), and Goucher College (1960). She was awarded with the distinction of professor emeritus from Smith College from 1955-1973. She received the Constance Lindsay Skinner Award from the Woman's National Book Association in 1956, and received the Hale Award in 1959, "given annually to a distinguished writer with a connection to New England" (Waterboro Online). One of her students at Smith College, Lee Kingman, won a Vogue essay contest by entering a piece entitled "Pamela's Socks and the Roman Emperors," about her teacher, Mary Ellen Chase (Waterboro Online). Two biographies have been written about the life and career of Mary Ellen Chase: A Lantern in the Wind?The Life of Mary Ellen Chase (1887-1973) by Elienne Squire in 1995, and Feminist Convert: A Portrait of Mary Ellen Chase, written by Evelyn Chase and J. Daniel Hyman in 1988 Her other interests, beyond writing and teaching, included gardening and bird study. Mary Ellen Chase also enjoyed traveling and spent many summers in England, away from her permanent residence in Massachusetts. She was of the Episcopalian faith and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She died in Northampton, Massachusetts on July 28, 1973. Sources: Waterboro Public Library Online: Maine Writers Index "Mary Ellen Chase," http://www.waterboro.lib.me.us/maineaut/c.html Britannica Online: Women in American History "Chase, Mary Ellen," http://www.eb.com:180/women/articles/Chase_Mary_Ellen.html
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Both the sales and reviews following the 1941 publication of Mary Ellen Chase's bestseller, Windswept, proved the work to be a well-received and popular novel. Many critics read and reviewed it in light of the success of two of her previous novels, Mary Peters and Silas Crockett, and found it to be of equal or greater quality in comparison to those two books. Among the most celebrated aspects of the writing style and story line employed by Chase in Windswept was the great extent of characterization and depth used to bring to life the characters of her novel. Even though the Maine seacoast setting and the plot of Windswept was similar in many aspects to other writings by Chase, readers found it to be a welcome continuation, and reflection, of her fondness in writing about the land and inhabitants of the northeastern United States. Other characteristics of Mary Ellen Chases' writing style and technique were mentioned in contemporary criticisms. Her attention to nature, fondness for traveling, and respect for history, are well represented in Windswept, and many critics found comfort in this aspect of the novel. Rose Feld, writing for Books, appreciated the timelessness of the novel, proclaiming "When most of this year's crop of fiction is forgotten, readers will turn to ?Windswept,' to savor again its moods of nature, its diversity of character, and its pervading philosophy of strength?Miss Chase brings to the telling of this story all the richness of her powers. One is caught and held by the fine penetration and analysis of spirit, the sensitive capture of the sounds and colors and moods of a Maine seacoast during every season of the year, the scholarly blending of the past with the present, and the exquisite language of one who uses words with a feeling for their rhythm and their beauty." The New York Times professed Windswept to be her "strongest and most beautiful novel?the most distinguished in its innate indescribable quality and the most far-reaching in its significance." While many themes and patterns of her earlier works were reflected in Windswept, Chase seemed to strike a deeper chord than she had in her other literary pieces through the characterization and sensitivity displayed in her writing. In Booklist, R.S. Hillyer appreciated the thoughtfulness that went in to her writing, stating "this is Mary Ellen Chase's finest novel?it is also the most uneven because the novelist has set herself the ambitious task of dealing with several groups of people through a long period of time?the characterization is, for the most part, skillful." Similarly, the Springfield Republican proclaimed, "Miss Chase paints her characters with such loving and glowing skill that the observer suffers and rejoices with them and feels, when the book is closed that she has made new and intimate friends who will not soon be forgotten?each has his strong and memorable identity." Thus, many critics recognized the ease by which readers of Windswept could identify and embrace Chase's characters. Windswept was also celebrated for its optimistic tone and embodiment of the American ideal. Many critics saw it as a welcome change to the liberal, outspoken works that had begun to be published in the early 1940's. The New Yorker described it as a "readable family chronicle," and the Catholic World called it a "welcome relief from the current fashion of exalting the objectionable as the normal." The universality of the novel was expressed in Bess Jones' review in the Saturday Review of Literature: "Windswept becomes a symbol of the kind of life America at its wisest and best can produce?a tolerant, kind, broad, humorous, humane, strong, humble?in short?a civilized life. Everyone in the book is likeable, decent sound." The book, therefore, was proudly labeled as a product of both American literature and culture. The New Republic, however, did find the plot of the novel to be lacking in substance. Their review stated, "unfortunately, the writing is far better than the story, which has grown a little thin and familiar since ?Mary Peters' and ?Silas Crockett.' In general, Windswept's debut to the literary world was welcomed and respected. Some critics found the similarity of its genre to other works by the same author to be attractive and enjoyable, while others found fault in its redundancy of setting and themes. Book Review Digest, 1941: Booklist, 1941 Books, 1941 Catholic World, 1942 New Republic, 1942 New York Times, 1941 New Yorker, 1941 Saturday Review of Literature, 1941 Springfield Republican, 1941
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Both the sales and reviews following the 1941 publication of Mary Ellen Chase's bestseller, Windswept, proved the work to be a well-received and popular novel. Many critics read and reviewed it in light of the success of two of her previous novels, Mary Peters and Silas Crockett, and found it to be of equal or greater quality in comparison to those two books. Among the most celebrated aspects of the writing style and story line employed by Chase in Windswept was the great extent of characterization and depth used to bring to life the characters of her novel. Even though the Maine seacoast setting and the plot of Windswept was similar in many aspects to other writings by Chase, readers found it to be a welcome continuation, and reflection, of her fondness in writing about the land and inhabitants of the northeastern United States. Other characteristics of Mary Ellen Chases' writing style and technique were mentioned in contemporary criticisms. Her attention to nature, fondness for traveling, and respect for history, are well represented in Windswept, and many critics found comfort in this aspect of the novel. Rose Feld, writing for Books, appreciated the timelessness of the novel, proclaiming "When most of this year's crop of fiction is forgotten, readers will turn to ?Windswept,' to savor again its moods of nature, its diversity of character, and its pervading philosophy of strength?Miss Chase brings to the telling of this story all the richness of her powers. One is caught and held by the fine penetration and analysis of spirit, the sensitive capture of the sounds and colors and moods of a Maine seacoast during every season of the year, the scholarly blending of the past with the present, and the exquisite language of one who uses words with a feeling for their rhythm and their beauty." The New York Times professed Windswept to be her "strongest and most beautiful novel?the most distinguished in its innate indescribable quality and the most far-reaching in its significance." While many themes and patterns of her earlier works were reflected in Windswept, Chase seemed to strike a deeper chord than she had in her other literary pieces through the characterization and sensitivity displayed in her writing. In Booklist, R.S. Hillyer appreciated the thoughtfulness that went in to her writing, stating "this is Mary Ellen Chase's finest novel?it is also the most uneven because the novelist has set herself the ambitious task of dealing with several groups of people through a long period of time?the characterization is, for the most part, skillful." Similarly, the Springfield Republican proclaimed, "Miss Chase paints her characters with such loving and glowing skill that the observer suffers and rejoices with them and feels, when the book is closed that she has made new and intimate friends who will not soon be forgotten?each has his strong and memorable identity." Thus, many critics recognized the ease by which readers of Windswept could identify and embrace Chase's characters. Windswept was also celebrated for its optimistic tone and embodiment of the American ideal. Many critics saw it as a welcome change to the liberal, outspoken works that had begun to be published in the early 1940's. The New Yorker described it as a "readable family chronicle," and the Catholic World called it a "welcome relief from the current fashion of exalting the objectionable as the normal." The universality of the novel was expressed in Bess Jones' review in the Saturday Review of Literature: "Windswept becomes a symbol of the kind of life America at its wisest and best can produce?a tolerant, kind, broad, humorous, humane, strong, humble?in short?a civilized life. Everyone in the book is likeable, decent sound." The book, therefore, was proudly labeled as a product of both American literature and culture. The New Republic, however, did find the plot of the novel to be lacking in substance. Their review stated, "unfortunately, the writing is far better than the story, which has grown a little thin and familiar since ?Mary Peters' and ?Silas Crockett.' In general, Windswept's debut to the literary world was welcomed and respected. Some critics found the similarity of its genre to other works by the same author to be attractive and enjoyable, while others found fault in its redundancy of setting and themes. Book Review Digest, 1941: Booklist, 1941 Books, 1941 Catholic World, 1942 New Republic, 1942 New York Times, 1941 New Yorker, 1941 Saturday Review of Literature, 1941 Springfield Republican, 1941
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The emergence of Windswept on the bestseller list in 1941 proved to literary critics and readers alike that Mary Ellen Chase was taking all the right steps to becoming a respected and recognized writer. Following the relative successes of her two previous novels, Silas Crockett and Mary Peters, Windswept entered the literary scene at a time when a variety of books were being read, and when readers looked to literature for reassurance that the American dream was still alive and well. The novel was written and published during the first half of World War II, when America was becoming increasingly involved in foreign issues. Yet, as reflected in the success and reception of Windswept and other similar works, American readers relied on the literature of the early 1940s to remind them of the resiliency, tradition, and community that characterized social and political life during those years of change. The writing style used by Mary Ellen Chase in the book further justified its popularity, as critics and readers alike appreciated the clean, deep prose and element of genuineness found in Windswept. Promotional techniques used by Macmillan, the publisher of Windswept, were effective in setting up its reading audience to readily embrace the novel as a symbol of the best American Literature had to offer. Advertisements touted it as falling under the same category as such sweeping national epics as Gone with the Wind, All This and Heaven Too, and How Green Was My Valley. Such campaigning put the novel on a level with works of literature that American citizens were expected to read and enjoy. Windswept, following the precedent set by these other great works, was proclaimed by Macmillan to be a "symbol of the kind of life America at its wisest can produce." The bold, eye-catching graphics used to promote the novel were assisted by the simplicity and strength of the one-word title of the novel, which no doubt stuck easily in the minds of readers. The incorporation of the word "America" in the majority of the advertisements and promotions also gave the book the reputation, even prior to its release, of standing for patriotism and a reflection of community in the United States. Non-fiction books that were "forecasted" simultaneously with Windswept, by such publications as The Publisher's Weekly, included The World's Iron Age, by William Henry Chamberlin, which was a "description and analysis of world events since the last war," and All That Glitters, by Frances Parkinson Keyes, described as a "full, detailed picture of life in Washington in the ?20s, ?30s and '40?" These works, contemporary to the publication of Windswept, also reflect the prevalence of literature dealing with the history, traditions and culture of America up until the 1940s. World events, the past, and a sense of nostalgia were obviously important elements of American culture during the World War II era. While Windswept was by no means a war novel, the timing of its publication was important to its success, since it was both publicized and purchased by means of a sense of national pride and importance. Glancing at the top-ten lists of both fictitious and non-fictitious best sellers during 1941 and 1942, it is obvious that readers were interested in a broad array of books and subject matter. Again, however, the political and social backdrop of World War II was not ignored by writers of the time. Titles such as Berlin Diary, by William Shirer, Blood, Sweat and Tears, by Winston Churchill, You Can't Do Business with Hitler, by Douglass Miller, and Victory Through Air Power by Major Alexander P. de Seversky, for example, were very tangible reflections of what was on the minds of American writers and readers during those two years?namely, the war. Even Windswept, a fictitious story centered on a family in the northeastern United States, did not ignore the presence of these outside, foreign forces. The first chapter of the novel, in fact, describes the loud, confusing intrusion of a troop of German soldiers on a country road in Germany while two of the women in the novel are taking a peaceful, afternoon drive. Likewise, Philomena and Jan, two Bohemian friends of the Marstons, are heart-broken upon hearing that the German swastika was raised above the castle of Prague. He explains to an American shopkeeper "we do not like the Germans?for many years they oppress the Bohemians," to which the shopkeeper can only reply "I guess there's no one likes the Germans overmuch?I guess some day we'll all have to stand together to beat that man Hitler." The "enemy", to both Americans and Bohemians, is blatantly identified in Chase's novel, yet the power of the Germans, and the events taking place in the world at large, are only referred to briefly. Mary Ellen Chase, therefore, acknowledged and incorporated modern concerns and issues, but rather than focus primarily on the War, she used it as a tool for character development, as will be discussed further. Readers found comfort in the fact that the existence of, and references to, the war did not turn the novel into a commentary on World War II, but rather enhanced and deepened the feelings and sentiments expressed in the book by characters from all walks of life. Critics and readers appreciated the fact that Chase did not get caught up in the hype of World War II, but rather remained true to writing about what she was most passionate about, namely the Maine coast. She did not ignore what was going on in the political world around her, but incorporated it sparingly in the dialogue and text of her novel. Preferring to pledge allegiance to the American ideals of self-prosperity, generations of families, and the delicate relationship between the past and the present, Chase turned an enormous war into simply another aspect of life to be reckoned with by the Marstons, the Bohemians and other characters in Windswept. Mary Ellen Chase's subject matter, and manner of presenting it, was respected by Fanny Butcher and other critics for its "quiet acceptance of reality." Rather than trying to push an opinion on its readers, Windswept invited them to escape to the weathered, beautiful coast of Maine, where the deaths of familiar characters such as Philip Marston and Daniel Perkins gave mortality a realness to the others in the novel, and caused them to face it on their own personal battlefield. Readers could identify with, and feel connected to, the personalities and ambitions of characters in Windswept. Chase's characterization was praised for its depth and originality, even though the plot and setting of her novel had not progressed far from that of her previous books. Critic Perry D. Westbrook celebrated Chase's own "confidence in the moral and spiritual resources of the American culture," elements that surface repeatedly in the actions and words of the characters in Windswept. There are many Biblical references in the book, which again reinforced the idea of classicism and institutionalized traditions to its readers. The overlap of nature and religion, and the power of sources, whose essences are both natural and God-given, is also incorporated in the novel. The wind is described in the novel a "companion, even as master, the power behind those shooting, soaring paths of [stars], clearing the way for the streets of the New Jerusalem, blazing with topaz and emerald." Thus, the grand enterprise undertaken by the Marston men in constructing the Windswept estate, coupled with the timelessness and vastness of the natural and spiritual powers by which they were surrounded, conveyed a sense of harmony between man and nature to readers. Amidst the context of nature, and of the surroundings that man finds himself thrown into, the importance of human connection is explored in the novel. The main characters in the novel are men, yet men and women alike were drawn to Windswept as it sweetly delved into relationships between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives and camaraderie among both adults and children. The universality of human bonds receives great attention in the novel. Chase, for example, celebrates the changing demography of American communities that was taking place in the 1940s, choosing to incorporate the personable Bohemians Jan, Anton, Philomena and others in her novel. Rather than isolate or stigmatize such characters, Chase retains an appreciation for their cultural heritage while simultaneously demonstrating the importance of welcoming them into American communities. She sensitively chronicles the immigration of different peoples, as far back as 1871, to the United States, while highlighting the beauty and uniqueness that their inclusion into society brought. A review in the New Yorker praised Chase's "profound belief in the ?foreigners' enrichment of American life," and called her novel "a readable family chronicle." Mary Ellen Chase wrote her novel in such a way that it helped expose her readers to the social and cultural changes that were taking place in their country, without sacrificing her reverence for the American family. Readers of varied ages, races and even religions could read her novel without feeling threatened by the changing face of America that she subtly explores, or feeling alienated by her incorporation of the new with the old. Windswept achieved best-seller status during 1940 and 1941 when great works by American authors, such as Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls and John Steinbeck's The Moon is Down, were also earning "top 10" status. While such authors had gained more ground than Chase in establishing names for themselves by that time, her presence on the list was both respected and well-deserved. As mentioned above, her careful attention to the nostalgia and familial legacies treasured by the "typical" American citizen were embraced by all kinds of readers. Critic William Hogan admired the fact that Chase included "no violence, no loud noises, no sex or bombast?but a display of craftsmanship that might embarrass a younger generation of novelists if they took time out to read this kind of English prose." He, and others, praised Chase for writing in the true tradition of English literature, and retaining those qualities that mark respectable literature, without dampening the freshness or spirit of the novel. Windswept truly was, and still is, an American novel. However, Mary Ellen Chase obviously had her own definition of what "American" meant, and how the meaning had slowly progressed over time. Thus, she was able to attract readers from different walks of life, looking for different things in books. Those who wished to escape from the cruel realities of war could turn to the adventure, dreams, endurance and nostalgia displayed in the characters and setting of Windswept. Those who wished to explore what it meant to be in touch with one's roots and heritage could also look to the book and be comforted by the tribute paid by Chase to the idea of a home, to the philosophy of strength, the unbeatable human spirit represented in Windswept. She also forced her readers to think and to question that which was going on around them, as Windswept poses the question of whether or not technology and progress are harmful and slowly detract from the essence of American culture. Most importantly, there was an attraction of readers to the unfailing sense of optimism that emanates from the novel. While tragedy and sadness does strike characters in the novel, proving that life will always have its share of trials and struggles, the love and spirit of human beings always triumphs and carries on. Windswept's best-seller status was earned by greater factors than those such as number of books sold or copies printed. Rather, the timelessness and strength of the novel offered its readers a safe escape from the craziness of the world around them, and marked Chase as a member of a "group of writers who insist on seeing and finding positive values in our national culture in a period when it has become intellectually fashionable to find anything but negative values," (Westbrook). While the historical, social and political events surrounding the release of Windswept were important factors in the success of the novel, as was the respectable name Chase had earned herself as a writer, Windswept stood on its own merit in winning over the hearts of readers from anywhere and everywhere. These same readers were looking for a book that both appreciated and honored the past, while treasuring the present as well as the people and customs that enhance our individual lives. Sources: Publisher's Weekly, 1941, 1942 Book Review Digest: New York Times Review 1941, 1942 Westbrook, Perry D. Mary Ellen Chase, Twayne, 1965
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