Naturalists in the Classics: Stratton-Porter’s “A Girl of the Limberlost”

File:Girl of the Limberlost Title page.pngI enjoy reading classics, or at least period books, simply to see how the author portrays contemporary life – a life long past, though still connected through unchanging human foibles. Something I find particularly interesting is re-reading books and seeing how my own perspective of the content changes.

Moths I either liked or disliked depending on how fuzzy they appeared to be or whether they threatened my clothes, but I certainly wasn’t as fascinated by these nondescript fliers as I was with butterflies or dragonflies. After reading more about them, and discussing with Diane and Christine, I’ve come to appreciate them in their diversity. As such, re-reading “A Girl of the Limberlost” is quite fun as moths are central to the storyline.

Written in 1909 by Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter, the book is aimed at younger readers and is a morality play of sorts. Stratton-Porter was a keen naturalist, and her story captures a disappearing landscape in the swamps that were being drained during her lifetime.

One sees the ardent interest of post-Victorian collectors as well as the love and fear of the swamp itself. Different moth species are observed, as is a love of nature and early ecological awareness of the impact human intervention has on the health of a landscape.

A quick read, the book is available free online for e-readers and is likely available at the library. I am finding it engaging despite the target age-group, as it reminds me so much of the enthusiasm for nature displayed by fellow FWGgers – minus the desire to mount specimens in private collections!

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One thought on “Naturalists in the Classics: Stratton-Porter’s “A Girl of the Limberlost”

  1. This is one of my favourite books. I read it as a teen to the children I was babysitting, and the story stayed with me, because of central characters, the moths. Many years later I was fortunate to find a bookstore in Victoria, BC that was able to track down a copy for me, and I finally saw a luna moth, although it had already died. A story well-worth reading, and a beautiful moth well-worth seeking out.

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