Dedicated to classics and hits.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Little Women (1868) by Louisa May Alcott

Winona Ryder plays Jo March in the 1994 film version of Little Women

Book Review
Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott
p. 1868-69

Guide to 19th Century American Literature

Book Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin ,1899,  9/26/13
Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1885, 10/15/13
Book Review: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James ,1880 , 7/16/13
Book Review; Ben Hur by Lew Wallace,1880  6/13/13
Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,1869, 3/9/13
Book Review: The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne 1860, 9/19/12
Book Review: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1852, 9/12/12
Book Review: The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne,1851, 5/30/12
Book Review: Moby Dick by Herman Melville 1851, 8/27/12
Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables,1851,  6/21/12
Book Review: The Pit and The Pendulum  1842, 3/28/12
Book Review: The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, 1844, 3/27/12
Book Review: The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, 1839, 3/20/12
Book Review: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, 1826, 6/18/12

  I've known what photograph I was going to use to illustrate this book review: Winona Ryder playing "Jo March" in the 1994 film version of this immortal classic.  Little Women is most certainly both a CLASSIC and a HIT- with all the modern meanings of those terms: plays, films, remakes, sequels, sales measured in hundreds of thousands, international media attention.

  And while reading Little Women wasn't particularly fun, it's impossible not to admire the craft of what Louisa May Alcott put together and sold to an adoring public.  On the surface, Little Women is a tale about four sisters growing up during and after the Civil War: three marry, one dies and the character of Jo is essentially the "main" sister.

  The "adventures" such as they are closer to the era of Frances Burney and Ann Radcliffe than to Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, but Alcott had a supberb grasp of different literary idioms and manages to integrate literary devices that constitute an encyclopedia of 18th and 19th century Novelistic techniques.  Alcott throws in epistolary dialogues, picaresque travelogues of exotic locations (Italy), a healthy dose of sentimental fiction, and a detailed description of quiet domesticity that track more closely to the proto-literary modernism of George Eliot.  And it all added up to a huge, monster, gargantuan hit.

 Did you know that Alcott wrote like seven sequels to Little Women?  And that she never had another hit?  And that people make another film or tv version every few years?


Susan Bailey said...

I enjoyed your analysis, shows how much reading you've done. I am an Alcott devotee but have not done a lot of reading outside of her works so it's helpful to see this. Alcott read like crazy and it obviously shows in her writing.

I blog on Louisa if you'd like to come over and visit. The website is I have several posts devoted to Little Women that you can find a link to on the menu item called "Her Writing."

catdirt said...

first actual non spam comment in six months! didn't know people still left them. what's up with jo being a lesbian though? i think i left that out of the review.

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