Louisa May Alcott American Literature Analysis
Because Alcott is so well known for Little Women, much of her other work is generally overlooked. Yet she was a highly prolific writer who wrote throughout her life, virtually from childhood to the grave. The many stories and home theatricals that she wrote as a child constituted an apprentice period for her craft; much of her mature writing summons up this early period.
The mid-1850’s found Alcott writing the sentimental stories popular in the Victorian era. She was always attuned to her audience, writing what would sell to a publisher and be enjoyed by a real audience. While this shows a certain kind of sensitivity, it also restricted her writing. Victorian sentimentality was something she could always fall back upon, and in some of her later novels, when the modern reader hopes for a more mature engagement of ideas and testing of hypotheses, Alcott seems to take the easy way out into the old sentimentality that had worked so well in the past.
Although she was a hospital nurse for only six weeks during the Civil War, the experience was a turning point for Alcott. It had both good and bad outcomes. On the negative side, she never fully recovered her health from the typhoid fever she contracted or from the medication given to cure her. On the positive side, she had the time and the inclination to rewrite the letters she had written home, which were published in 1863 as Hospital Sketches. This work, published under her own...
(The entire section is 1904 words.)
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