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More About Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy
on June 14, 2013
If you're an Alcott fan, as I am, this volume will be a delight. I've read LITTLE WOMEN since childhood (all the way back to when I complained to my mother when I found out I read an abridged edition--I wanted the whole story!) and, by dint of further reading, found out many of the historical background items for this book, but this collects all of them in a super package, from the many references to Bunyan's PILGRIM"S PROGRESS, to how book events paralleled the Alcotts' real lives, to definitions of familiar objects and terms in the 19th century that have since disappeared, like a charabanc, pickled limes (which, BTW, sound disgusting!), and "trumps." (I did find it a bit sad that the author needed to translate several words that I found commonplace; is it really necessary today to tell someone that "sober" means "solemn," for instance?) Other than the fact that a couple of the annotations struck me as incorrect or odd, and that one illustration was mislabeled, this is thoroughly delightful from cover to cover. Included in the text are illustrations from various editions of the book, from May Alcott's originals to the Louis Jambour drawings that I grew up with, and stills from the various film versions of the story.
An introduction provides historical and biographical background to Alcott and the writing of the book. Also cool is the fact that Shealy uses Alcott's original publication text, which was edited when the book was brought out in a uniform edition several years later (this is the version most people have been reading since 1880; Alcott's publishers objected to the slang that had been used in the original version, such as "ain't," and "don't" rather than "doesn't" and corrected them, as well as fixing other descriptions--"stout" was removed from descriptions of both Mrs. March and Professor Bhaer, for example, with "tall" substituted); these changes are listed in an appendix. Absolutely worth the money!