Little Women has delighted and instructed readers for generations. For many, it is a favorite book first encountered in childhood or adolescence. Championed by Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Theodore Roosevelt, and J. K. Rowling, it is however much more than the “girls’ book” intended by Louisa May Alcott’s first publisher. In this richly annotated, illustrated edition, Daniel Shealy illuminates the novel’s deep engagement with issues such as social equality, reform movements, the Civil War, friendship, love, loss, and of course the passage into adulthood.
The editor provides running commentary on biographical contexts (Did Alcott, like Jo, have a “mood pillow”?), social and historical contexts (When may a lady properly decline a gentleman’s invitation to dance?), literary allusions (Who is Mrs. Malaprop?), and words likely to cause difficulty to modern readers (What is a velvet snood? A pickled lime?). With Shealy as a guide, we appreciate anew the confusions and difficulties that beset the March sisters as they overcome their burdens and journey toward maturity and adulthood: beautiful, domestic-minded Meg, doomed and forever childlike Beth, selfish Amy, and irrepressible Jo. This edition examines the novel’s central question: How does one grow up well?
Little Women: An Annotated Edition offers something for everyone. It will delight both new and returning readers, young and old, male and female alike, who will want to own and treasure this beautiful edition full of color illustrations and photographs.
[Shealy has] set out to contextualize and illustrate the social, political, historical and literary realities that underpin this wonderful and radical novel… What makes the book so glorious [is] the illustrations. From the earliest frontispieces to the green playbill for the Concord Players, the balance of text to image is well judged… For those of us who have an abiding affection [for Little Women], it’s an utter treat.
Elegant…the pictures are so gorgeous and the copious notes so interesting… Even for Alcott diehards who know the backstory, there is plenty to savor.
This annotated edition of Little Women is practically perfect. The book is beautiful, the scholarship impressive and consistently interesting, and the novel itself one of the most amazing products of American literary history. Although I loved Alcott’s novel before I picked up this new edition, which might bias my evaluation, Shealy’s Little Women: An Annotated Edition is an easy book to love, read, and get lost in.
A Little Women fanatic’s dream… Shealy’s annotations offer much help with allusions to now-forgotten books and arcane language… Many readers will find Shealy’s biographical details helpful in understanding this most favorite of books… [A] lovingly assembled edition.
[A] handsomely produced and exhaustively annotated edition… Richly presented, this Harvard Belknap edition offers a multifaceted picture of American life… It also makes a fine gift book for fans of Louisa May Alcott’s classic.
[This edition] is not geared simply to scholars but is equally inviting to the general reader, breathing new life and relevance into an enduring American classic.
An exciting boon to the countless readers and scholars of Alcott’s beloved novel, Daniel Shealy’s excellent Little Women: An Annotated Edition provides the biographical, cultural and even linguistic context of that novel’s making while it refreshes and enriches our experience of its enduring power.
- 640 pages
- 9 x 9-1/2 inches
- Belknap Press
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