Autobiography in Frederick Philip Grove's Settlers of the marsh

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Lulashnyk, Lorne
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The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate that Frederick Philip Grove's Settlers of the Marsh is constructed around an autobiographical set of facts. The events described in the novel relate to actual events, people and places from his own life so that it becomes possible to document the genesis of Settlers which operates as a novel but also as a disguised autobiography. This thesis seeks to demonstrate how the author of Settlers, who vacillated between megalomania and despondency, who wished to be hidden yet known, resolved this paradox in his literature. Grove was a translator and was relegated to translating life events into literature - in effect, transforming life into art. In life, he could never divulge his true identity, but through the medium of fiction and particularly in his favourite novel Settlers of the Marsh, he was able to tell his story and achieve the very personal notoriety that he craved. The first chapter demonstrates how Grove transformed the life experiences of Elsa Endell into his German novels, Fanny Essler and Maurermeister Ilhes Haus. Material from these novels appeared twenty years later in Settlers. The initial chapter also examines Baroness Elsa, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven's autobiography expressed as a series of letters she wrote to her friend Djuna Barnes in Paris from Berlin in 1923-6. Elsa's memoirs are pivotal in comprehending Grove's construction of Settlers. Chapter Two examines the precursors to Settlers - Grove's original manuscripts, particularly Pioneers I and V and The White Range-Line House. These documents provide valuable insights into when Grove began the novel and what he was trying to achieve. Chapter Three shows that Settlers of the Marsh is, in large part, a translation of life into art - a disguised autobiography.