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Book Title: Hospital Sketches|
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Reader ratings: 3.1
The author of the book: Louisa May Alcott
Edition: B&R Samizdat Express
Date of issue: September 1st 2009
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
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I read this concurrently with Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist -- unintentionally, but appropriately -- as not only was Dickens one of Alcott's favorite writers, but this fictionalized memoir of Alcott’s could be said to have led to her “becoming Louisa May Alcott”.
Similar to the start of the Dickens phenomenon with The Pickwick Papers being published under the name of “Boz”, Alcott gained her first bout of fame with this work, writing under the pseudonym of "Tribulation Periwinkle" (one sees the Dickens influence immediately). Her short time as a Civil War nurse in a Union hospital is expressed in humorous, sensitive, ironic and impassioned prose. Like her literary hero, she captures the telling details.
Nurse Trib P., reflecting on her life-changing experiences ministering to the wounded and dying under adverse conditions, discovers a philosophy of life, and her own writing style. In much the same way the sketches of The Pickwick Papers led to Dickens’ development of Oliver Twist, Alcott's hospital sketches paved her way toward Little Women.
All of which has me wondering, again, if I would’ve become the Dickens fan I am without my childhood reading of Alcott.
"I'd rather laugh than cry, when I must sing out anyhow, so just say that bit from Dickens again, please, and I'll stand it like a man." He did; for "Mrs. Cluppins," "Chadband," and "Sam Weller," always helped him through; thereby causing me to lay another offering of love and admiration on the shrine of the god of my idolatry, though he does wear too much jewelry and talk slang.
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Read information about the authorAs A.M. Barnard:
Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power (1866)
The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation (1867)
A Long Fatal Love Chase (1866 – first published 1995)
First published anonymously:
A Modern Mephistopheles (1877)
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May were educated by their father, philosopher/ teacher, Bronson Alcott and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May.
Louisa spent her childhood in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts, where her days were enlightened by visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library, excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau and theatricals in the barn at Hillside (now Hawthorne’s "Wayside").
Like her character, Jo March in Little Women, young Louisa was a tomboy: "No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race," she claimed, " and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences...."
For Louisa, writing was an early passion. She had a rich imagination and often her stories became melodramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends. Louisa preferred to play the "lurid" parts in these plays, "the villains, ghosts, bandits, and disdainful queens."
At age 15, troubled by the poverty that plagued her family, she vowed: "I will do something by and by. Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!"
Confronting a society that offered little opportunity to women seeking employment, Louisa determined "...I will make a battering-ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world." Whether as a teacher, seamstress, governess, or household servant, for many years Louisa did any work she could find.
Louisa’s career as an author began with poetry and short stories that appeared in popular magazines. In 1854, when she was 22, her first book Flower Fables was published. A milestone along her literary path was Hospital Sketches (1863) based on the letters she had written home from her post as a nurse in Washington, DC as a nurse during the Civil War.
When Louisa was 35 years old, her publisher Thomas Niles in Boston asked her to write "a book for girls." Little Women was written at Orchard House from May to July 1868. The novel is based on Louisa and her sisters’ coming of age and is set in Civil War New England. Jo March was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality; a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children’s fiction.
In all, Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888, only two days after her father, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.
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