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Little Women (Norton Critical Editions) by…
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Little Women (Norton Critical Editions) (edition 2003)

by Louisa May Alcott (Author)

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1402130,357 (4.33)4
Member:jbpjackson
Title:Little Women (Norton Critical Editions)
Authors:Louisa May Alcott (Author)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2003), 665 pages
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Little Women [Norton Critical Edition] by Louisa May Alcott

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4**** to this Norton Critical edition (and note that this 4**** rating and this review are directed specifically to the high quality of this NCE, though I personally do not that much care for Little Women itself as a novel). While the Harvard-Belknap annotated edition has its merits, this NCE is particularly recommended if a reader is going to choose just one, single edition of Little Women, given the superiority of the NCE supplementary materials over the Harvard-Belknap annotations.

Angela M. Estes and Kathleen Margaret Lant's "Dismembering the Text: The Horror of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women" is particularly good for its strong (harsh, even) criticism of the novel from a contemporary feminist perspective, with Jo's marriage to Bhaer destroying her literary ambitions and finally "domesticating" her. Barbara Sicherman's "Reading Little Women: The Many Lives of a Text" is valuable for its more moderate approach, which considers the novel's appeal to or dislike by various social groups. In general, the Modern Critical Views collection of articles is quite good, though I found Catharine R. Stimpson's "Reading for Love: Canon, Paracanons, and Whistling Jo March" a bit overly theoretical in its approach, which is more a discussion of "paracanons" with only an appended application of this discussion to Little Women itself.

This NCE is also valuable for its inclusion of a half-dozen Alcott texts, juvenilia as well as published but minor pre-LW works, some of which may be referred to in the Harvard-Belknap annotations but are conveniently available for reading in full here in this NCE. ( )
  CurrerBell | Apr 1, 2014 |
I spent the first several chapters of this book hoping that Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy would die, since that would mean that something interesting would happen. But then I realized that if one of them did die, they would do it in such a virtuous, praiseworthy fashion that everyone would learn a valuable life-lesson from. So from then on I kept on hoping that one of the sisters would turn up pregnant. Alas, it never happened, but one of the sisters did die-- and taught Jo a life-lesson in the process. And by the end of the story, everything that had made the characters even vaguely interesting at the beginning had been slowly beaten out of them by society. Jo wouldn't do her writing anymore, Laurie wasn't so adventurous so much anymore, and Amy wasn't even stupid anymore. The narrative style also got on my nerves: Jo would tell us she liked books and that she was a bookworm, and then the narrator would chime in and tell us that she was a bookworm. And that she liked books. Thanks. Not only did the narrator condescend to the audience, but she also enjoyed condescending to the characters, especially Amy, the girl so retarded that even the narrator made fun of her. By far the worst chapter was the one where Marmie taught her daughters the valuable life-lesson that you can't even take a week off of work in your entire life, because your bird will die and you'll ruin your dinner. So keep on working forever! And always be virtuous and never be afraid to lecture to your friends about what they're doing wrong in their lives. They'll love it.

added October 2010:
I didn't like this book the first time I read it, and I liked it even less the second time around. "Experiments" is one of the single worst chapters in any book I have ever read; rarely will you find anything this obnoxiously moralistic. Close behind in my non-esteem are the gross depictions of the marriage between Meg and John, and the bits about Jo's writing career, which convinces me that Alcott was filled with self-hate (or at least thought she should have been). The amazing part about the novel is that you think you have no goodwill towards the characters, then in the second half, you realize you must have, as it is all burned up and destroyed.
  Stevil2001 | Mar 9, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Louisa May Alcottprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eiselein, GregoryEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, Anne K.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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DO NOT COMBINE WITH MAIN WORK - this is a heavily supplemented critical edition
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393976149, Paperback)

This authoritative, accurate text of the first edition (1868–69) of Little Women is accompanied by textual variants and thorough explanatory annotations.

“Backgrounds and Contexts” includes a wealth of archival materials, among them previously unpublished correspondence with Thomas Niles and Alcott’s own precursors to Little Women. “Criticism” reprints twenty nineteenth-century reviews. Seven modern essays represent a variety of critical theories used to read and study the novel, including feminist (Catharine R. Stimpson, Elizabeth Keyser), new historicist (Richard H. Brodhead), psychoanalytic (Angela M. Estes and Kathleen Margaret Lant), and reader-response (Barbara Sicherman). A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:32 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Chronicles the joys and sorrows of the four March sisters as they grow into young ladies in nineteenth-century New England.

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