The Afterlife of

The Afterlife of "Little Women"

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The hit Broadway show of 1912; the lost film of 1919; Katharine Hepburn, as Jo, sliding down a banister in George Cukora€™s 1933 movie; Mark Englisha€™s shimmering 1967 illustrations; Joa€”this time played by Sutton Fostera€”belting qI'll be / astonishingq in the 2004 Broadway musical flop: these are only some of the markers of the afterlife of Little Women. Then therea€™s the nineteenth-century child who wrote, qIf you do not... make Laurie marry Beth, I will never read another of your books as long as I live.q Not to mention Miss Manners, a Little Women devotee, who announced that the book taught her an important life lesson: qAlthough ita€™s very nice to have two clean gloves, ita€™s even more important to have a little ink on your fingers.q In The Afterlife of Little Women, Beverly Lyon Clark, a leading authority on childrena€™s literature, explores these and other after-tremors, both popular and academic, as she maps the reception of Louisa May Alcotta€™s timeless novel, first published in 1868. Clark divides her discussion into four historical periods. The first covers the novela€™s publication and massive popularity in the late nineteenth century. In the second eraa€”the first three decades of the twentieth centurya€”the novel becomes a nostalgic icon of the domesticity of a previous century, while losing status among the literary and scholarly elite. In its mid-century afterlife (1930a€“1960), Little Women reaches a low in terms of its critical reputation but remains a well-known piece of Americana within popular culture. The book concludes with a long chapter on Little Womena€™s afterlife from the 1960s to the presenta€”a period in which the reading of the book seems to decline, while scholarly attention expands dramatically and popular echoes continue to proliferate. Drawing on letters and library records as well as reviews, plays, operas, film and television adaptations, spinoff novels, translations, Alcott biographies, and illustrations, Clark demonstrates how the novel resonates with both conservative family values and progressive feminist ones. She grounds her story in criticism of childrena€™s literature, book history, cultural studies, feminist criticism, and adaptation studies. Written in an accessible narrative style, The Afterlife of Little Women speaks to scholars, librarians, and devoted Alcott fans.(APSO); Agnes Lee Bryant, a€œMy Favorite Book, and Why, a€ St. Nicholas, Mar. 1907 , 469 (APSO); unnamed ... Lavinia Russ, a€œNot to Be Read on Sunday, a€ Horn Book , Oct. 1968, reprinted in Stern, Critical Essays, 100. 31. Mary Astor, A Life onanbsp;...

Title:The Afterlife of "Little Women"
Author:Beverly Lyon Clark
Publisher:JHU Press - 2014-10-23


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