Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Invincible Louisa, Back in the Spotlight

"Invincible Louisa": That was the award-winning YA biography I read of Louisa May Alcott as a kid, a book which made me kind of obsessed with her, even more than I already was as a die-had fan who'd read and re-read all the Little Women/March family books as well as Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. Now as a grown-up I can add that I've also read her thrillers, including the amazingly-titled A Long Fatal Love Chase. I think you can pretty much guess what that one's about. (P.S. Yes, it was awesome.)

Anyway, Ruth Graham at DoubleX has a great piece pegged to the existance of a kind of Louisa-hoopla in American culture.

Her piece focuses on the author's struggle--so evident in her books for young girls--between her fiery radical feminist side and a moral duty side. Alcott had a genuine wish to reign in her ambitions and needs in the service of the people and ideals she loved, even those who took advantage of her. Writes Graham:

That idea of compromising—expecting less, accepting fate—is one that shows up frequently in Alcott’s work, and throughout her life. As John Matteson pointed out in his 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father, most of Alcott's heroines, including all four March sisters and many other lesser-known characters, respond to life's challenges not by speaking up for their needs, but by learning to tamp down their own desires.

Alcott saw sacrifice as part of a worthwhile life—even at the expense of self-expression and fulfillment.

Well worth a read. On another note, this radical feminist still wishes Jo and Laurie had found a way to make it work, though if the rascally heir had reformed his ways post first proposal and made a second go of it, that would probably have turned Little Women into Pride and Prejudice II: Boston Nights. (Seriously, f*** Amy, that little man-stealing brat!)


  1. You know, I always used to feel the same way about Jo and Laurie, until I sat through the mostly-excruciating-because-of-a-seriously-miscast-Winona-Ryde movie, and beheld the glory of Gabriel Byrne as the Professor. To which I could only respond with one very long, protracted DROOL.

    O.M.G. Yum.

    So that sort of reconciled me to Jo's little limited life of running a school for boys (which was a tad on the treacly side, but whatever).

    I too read every single one of those books, well into the double-digits of repetitions. I still think of a sobbing Meg every time I make jelly (" won't GEL!!"). Speaking of which, Stolz did make a damn fine John, didn't he? Why can't they ever get the women right, dammit? grumble grumble doe-eyes lobotomized susan sarandon grumble grumble...

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for reminding me that I need to read that biography. I am so there. And I expect that this willindeed spawn a revival of Alcottiana in my life, andnot a moment too soon, my friend. Not a moment too soon.

  2. (Seriously, f*** Amy, that little man-stealing brat!)

    Ha! YES! I am re-reading Little Women for the first time since my adolescence (about ten years ago) and Amy IS such a brat. I remembered her marriage to Laurie, but I had forgotten that she burned Jo's manuscript because she wasn't allowed to go to a party with Jo and Meg. WTF, little girl? In the words of the immortal Chandler Bing, "Oh my God! That is SO NOT the opposite of taking someone's underwear!" Or ... um ... you know what I mean.