Saturday, April 4, 2015

Alcott, Louisa May (Little Women)

Every decade or so I read this childhood favorite of mine. Every decade I get something more and something different out of it.

This decade I interspersed my reading with YouTube clips from the 1994 and 1949 movie retellings. If only to remind myself that my best and earliest memory of the book was via my own imaginings, not flavored by what I had seen at the theater. Despite Bale's rampant adorableness and Allyson's chewing of the scenery, the memories I do hold of the book are based on Alcott's own descriptions.

Cold winters described by those hot turnovers Meg and Jo would carry to work. Poverty described by the abject awfulness of the Hummel's abode (those broken windows stuffed with sacks!). Jo's struggles with her temper compared in detail against Amy's struggles to be a lady. Love and marriage described in decidedly simple terms - for this day and age - but replete with notions that will never be untrue or not resonate in any time. And those descriptions of 1860s Europe - like a balm to the soul.

So, this decade I recognize the value in a good, strong moralistic tale that doesn't demean or belittle any particular type of person or group of people. It may hold up Christianity as its basis for that morality, and that befits the time and place in which it was written. It's pretty hard to go wrong with: be kind to your neighbor, help those who have less than you do, and work on your character to be a better person.

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