Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A few thoughts about Little Women

I belong to a forum where the current book of the month is Little Women. I didn't want to post this there as I know the book has so many admirers and I don't want to offend anybody but since I have a journal, I don't have to keep my opinions to myself either !
I've always had mixed feelings when it comes to Little Women. I haven't read any other book by the author so I can't compare, unfortunately. I know I couldn't quite understand what it was that disturbed me so much about the book, and then came this wonderful introduction that worded my every thought. I had a feeling buying a copy was a serious waste of money as I knew I wasn't going to read the book again but I'm so glad I bought this particular edition. It's the Barnes & Noble Classics edition, with an introduction by Camille Cauti (who isn't an Alcott scholar so I don't know how the work is considered by specialists, I think that'd be interesting to know). So I'd just like to quote this introduction and let it speak for me :

Jo makes several feminist declarations, but her own family and friends constitute her main audience, and she ultimately ends up living much more conventionally than she previously had forecast. [...] many fans, who had been begging the author for more information about the March sisters' future experiences - namely whom and how well, they married. Although as a feminist Alcott resented the implication that her March girls' future happiness depended upon marriage, she did succeed in pairing off most of her characters. [...] Jo, depicted throughout Little Women as an eccentric, outrageously unconventional character, makes some customary choices in the end and is certainly no radical. Although her husband might be unexpected, she married nonetheless. [...] The sister's Christian-inspired self-sacrifice can seem at times to border on masochism. [...] Marmee's total love sometimes seem to negate her daughters' desire for adult romantic relationships, which they instead seem to fear. [...] The thought of one sister leaving the nest throws the household into emotional turmoil. Some critics think of Little Women as a wasted opportunity for Alcott.

Well... so do I !