“Ramona”: The History Of A Classic
Every century or so, a story will emerge that carries so much social and emotional importance it becomes first a classic, and then… iconic. The tragic tale of Ramona and her lover Alessandro is just such a story. Like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and even a more modern fable like The Great Gatsby, “Ramona” has planted itself in our cultural consciousness in a very unique way. When Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel “Ramona” was first published in 1884, it was hurled against the public mindset like an ocean wave against a row boat. The sheer gravity of its message could not be ignored. It became an instant best seller, and, as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” had a generation earlier, not only changed the way people looked at the world outside their own comfort zone, it gave the average citizen a look into a culture they had previously only heard rumor of. Woven into the romance of “Ramona” is a glimpse of the tragic history of Southern California’s native peoples. More than just a love story, it is a tale who’s message is as important today as it was when the novel first hit the public stage.