Whispers in the Dark: The Fiction of Louisa May Alcott

Overview

In this study, Elizabeth Keyser examines representative works from the various genres in which Alcott wrote, uncovering self-portraits or metafictions that convey what it meant to be a Victorian woman writer. Alcott's wealth of allusion to other writers, such as Charlotte Bronte, Margaret Fuller, and, especially, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and of recurring motifs, such as textiles, texts, and theatricals, reveals her consistent subversion of conventional values for women. Keyser shows that beneath the mildly ...
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Overview

In this study, Elizabeth Keyser examines representative works from the various genres in which Alcott wrote, uncovering self-portraits or metafictions that convey what it meant to be a Victorian woman writer. Alcott's wealth of allusion to other writers, such as Charlotte Bronte, Margaret Fuller, and, especially, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and of recurring motifs, such as textiles, texts, and theatricals, reveals her consistent subversion of conventional values for women. Keyser shows that beneath the mildly progressive feminism of her domestic and children's fiction lurks the more radical feminism of the Gothic thrillers. In some works Alcott symbolically conveys her vision of a feminist future in which men and women fulfill their androgynous potential and live in a harmonious state of equality. But in her most sustained critique of gender relations, the Little Women trilogy, Alcott betrays grave misgivings about the possibility of such a future.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Revealing a little known aspect of the famous American writer, comments on all 38 fairy tales and fantasy stories that Alcott (1832-88) wrote throughout the span of her career. Among her themes are the seduction of daughters, the power of women, women artists, and the search for identity. The stories themselves have not been published since about the turn of the century. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870499067
  • Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. I Toward Little Women
1 "The Wrongs of Woman": "A Whisper in the Dark" 3
2 "Woman in the Nineteenth Century": Moods 14
3 "The Seduction of Daughters" or "The Sins of the Fathers": A Marble Woman or The Mysterious Model 32
4 "The Second Sex": Behind a Mask or A Woman's Power 46
5 "Portrait(s) of the Artist": Little Women 58
Pt. II Beyond Little Women
6 "The Anxiety of Influence": Little Men 85
7 "The Quest for Identity": Work: A Story of Experience 100
8 "An Identity 'Other' Than Their Own": A Modern Mephistopheles 122
9 "Paradoxes of the Woman Artist": Diana and Persis 144
10 A Voice of One's Own: Jo's Boys 163
Epilogue 181
Notes 191
Works Cited 215
Index 222
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