Louisa May Alcott: From Blood and Thunder to Hearth and Home

Overview

Gathered together for the first time in this volume, these influential articles by distinguished Alcott scholar Madeleine Stern illuminate Louisa May Alcott's development as an individual and a writer, revealign a surprisingly complex personality. The essays trace her growing professionalism, uncover her feminist and abolitionist convictions, and discuss the discoveries that unmasked her double literary life.
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Overview

Gathered together for the first time in this volume, these influential articles by distinguished Alcott scholar Madeleine Stern illuminate Louisa May Alcott's development as an individual and a writer, revealign a surprisingly complex personality. The essays trace her growing professionalism, uncover her feminist and abolitionist convictions, and discuss the discoveries that unmasked her double literary life.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Rare book dealer Stern has been writing about 19th-century American literature and publishing for more than half a century, focusing much of her effort on Louisa May Alcott. She is responsible for unearthing much of Alcott's anonymous writings and the numerous short stories, serials, and filler pieces Alcott wrote under a pseudonym. Stern's exhaustive research has insured Alcott's place in the history of American letters beyond recognition for her famous juvenile novels. This collection of 16 essays, all previously published, spans Stern's five decades of professional interest in Alcott and presents an overview of Alcott's development both as a writer and as a businesswoman. Stern's introduction provides background on her own lifelong fascination with the subject, but some editorial remarks to link the essays together would have made for a stronger, more readable book. For comprehensive American literature or women's studies collections.--Denise S. Sticha, Seton Hill Coll., Greensburg, PA
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of recycled essays and articles rather reverentially stressing the "Concord Scheherazade's" development as a writer and a feminist. "Concord Scheherazade" is a description that Alcott herself would have eschewed as an example of "fine writing" best left to adolescents and amateurs. Stylistic quibbles aside, Stern (A Double Life, 1988) and her associate, Leona Rostenberg, who is also represented in this study, were the two who recovered the early "blood and thunder" writings of Alcott, published in tabloids like the Saturday Evening Gazette and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, and collected and republished by Stern in the 1970s and '80s. Stern, also the author of an Alcott biography, defends those early sensational stories as the workshop in which Alcott learned to develop character, to plot, and to please her readers. The essays in this volume were published between 1943 and 1995, but are arranged to follow Alcott's life from her teenage passion for the theater to her enthusiastic support for women's suffrage in the years before she died. Included is an article detailing Alcott's reflections on her own writing, including letters to several of her publishers. Many of the essays offer repetitive information about the writing and publication of the early stories and Alcott's postþLittle Women career as author and editor of young people's fiction. One chapter reports on the results of a phrenological reading that Alcott had done on a trip to New York, which showed her to have "strong passions great powers of observation great vitality," among other positive attributes. Another chapter includes some of her feminist writings for Lucy Stone's Woman's Journal, one lettersigned, "most heartily yours for woman suffrage and all other reforms." Best suited for the libraries of those already Alcott buffs and collectorsþall others would do better to explore Alcott by dipping once more into the adventures of Little Women's Jo March, her alter ego.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555533489
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 3/19/1998
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Beginnings: Early Life & Career
Louisa Alcott, Trouper: Experiences in Theatricals, 1848-1880 13
Alcott's First Book: Tales for Ellen E. 32
Louisa May Alcott and the Boston Saturday Evening Gazette 46
An Early Alcott Sensation Story: "Marion Earle; or, Only an Actress!" 63
Blood-and-Thunder
Some Anonymous and Pseudonymous Thrillers of Louisa M. Alcott 73
Five Letters That Changed an Image: Louisa Alcott Unmasked 83
Behind a Mask: History of a Book 93
Developing Professionalism
Louisa's Wonder Book: A Newly Discovered Alcott Juvenile 107
The Witch's Cauldron to the Family Hearth: Louisa M. Alcott's Literary Development, 1848-1868 114
The First Appearance of a Little Women Incident 127
Louisa M. Alcott in Periodicals 130
Louisa Alcott's Feminist Letters 144
Appraisals & Reputation
Louisa Alcott's Self-Criticism 175
Louisa May Alcott Had Her Head Examined 239
Louisa May Alcott & Frank M. Lupton 246
Louisa May Alcott at 150: A Writer's Progress 253
Index 267
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