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Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

by

Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father Cover

ISBN13: 9780393059649
ISBN10: 0393059642
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Awards

2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The beloved author of Little Women was torn between pleasing her idealistic father and planting her feet in the material world.

Louisa May Alcott's name is known universally. Yet, during her youth, the famous Alcott was her father, Bronson — an eminent teacher, lecturer, and admired friend of Emerson and Thoreau. Willful and exuberant, Louisa flew in the face of all her father's intricate theories of child rearing. She, in turn, could not understand the frugal life Bronson preached, one that reached its epitome in the failed utopian community of Fruitlands. In a family that insisted on self-denial and spiritual striving, Louisa dreamed of wealth and fame. At the same time, like most daughters, she wanted her father's approval. As her father struggled to recover from a breakdown and slowly resurrect his career, Louisa learned to support her family, teaching if she must, but finally finding her vocation in writing.

This story of their tense yet loving relationship adds dimensions to Louisa's life, her work, and the relationships of fathers and daughters.

Review:

"'They were both born on November 29 (he in 1799 and she in 1832), but willful, passionate Louisa May Alcott couldn't have been more different from her serene, unworldly father, Bronson, whom fellow transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau revered for his wide-ranging philosophical pursuits and occasionally ridiculed for his lack of common sense. Bronson's failed educational and utopian ventures placed a great burden on his wife, Abba, while elder daughters Louisa and Anna worked as teachers and paid companions to support the family. Yet Louisa honored her father's steadfast principles, avers Matteson, a professor of English at John Jay College, who views both father and daughter with a sympathy that doesn't quite conceal the book's slightly specious premise. Bronson was far closer to Anna and younger sister Lizzie; Louisa's fiery nature sometimes dismayed him. She only gained his full approval when mistreatment with a mercury-based medicine during the Civil War made her a near-invalid for the rest of her life. This is really a biography of the whole Alcott family, though it narrows to a dual portrait after the wild success of Little Women in 1868 gave Louisa the independence she longed for and Bronson enjoyed more modest acclaim for his book Tablets and lecture tours out West. 26 illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Matteson's lucid, commanding biography casts new light on an unusual father-daughter bond and a new land at war with itself." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[Matteson] allows readers to glimpse both the minds of these two literary figures and the times in which they lived....Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Matteson capably describes Louisa's feverish devotion to her family and to her writing....Carefully researched and sensitively written." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[T]his book should have appeal beyond academia. Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott may be larger-than-life personas in the history of American letters, but this engaging dual biography points out how thoroughly human they were." Seattle Times

Review:

"In producing such a rounded, detailed and compelling portrait of Louisa, Bronson, their family and their times, Matteson has provided us with a valuable context for appreciating that enduring masterpiece Little Women." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"None of the Alcotts had an easy life and reading about them can feel exhausting, particularly when it comes to the longsuffering Abba. But particularly for those unfamiliar with the Alcott story, this is a journey of much interest." Christian Science Monitor

Synopsis:

"An amazing story [told] with clarity and intelligence ... colorful and insightful."'"Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

The beloved author of Little Women was torn between pleasing her idealistic father and planting her feet in the material world.

Synopsis:

Louisa May Alcott's name is known universally. Yet, during her youth, the famous Alcott was her father, Bronson--an eminent teacher, lecturer, and admired friend of Emerson and Thoreau. Willful and exuberant, Louisa flew in the face of all her father's intricate theories of child rearing. She, in turn, could not understand the frugal life Bronson preached, one that reached its epitome in the failed utopian community of Fruitlands. In a family that insisted on self-denial and spiritual striving, Louisa dreamed of wealth and fame. At the same time, like most daughters, she wanted her father's approval. As her father struggled to recover from a breakdown and slowly resurrect his career, Louisa learned to support her family, teaching if she must, but finally finding her vocation in writing. This story of their tense yet loving relationship adds dimensions to Louisa's life, her work, and the relationships of fathers and daughters.

About the Author

John Matteson is a professor of English at John Jay College in New York City, where he lives.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

njcur, August 22, 2008 (view all comments by njcur)
This is a fascinating book about the Alcott family. Louisa based her book Little Women on her family. A family way ahead of their time. Bronson Alcott was an educator who taught children with the Socratic method, encouraging children to have conversations about all sorts of topics. He lost his school in 1839 because he allowed a black child to enroll. He was also great friends with many well known transendentalists most notably Ralph Waldo Emerson. The relationship between Louisa and her father is very interesting. They died within days of each other.
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ISMKantzPA, June 19, 2008 (view all comments by ISMKantzPA)
It's one good read. It views life from a perspective rarily .encountered.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780393059649
Author:
Matteson, John
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Fathers and daughters
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Fathers and daughters -- United States.
Subject:
Alcott, Louisa May - Family
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
August 20, 2007
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
26 illustrations
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9.6 x 6.5 x 1.5 in 1.815 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Norton - English 9780393059649 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'They were both born on November 29 (he in 1799 and she in 1832), but willful, passionate Louisa May Alcott couldn't have been more different from her serene, unworldly father, Bronson, whom fellow transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau revered for his wide-ranging philosophical pursuits and occasionally ridiculed for his lack of common sense. Bronson's failed educational and utopian ventures placed a great burden on his wife, Abba, while elder daughters Louisa and Anna worked as teachers and paid companions to support the family. Yet Louisa honored her father's steadfast principles, avers Matteson, a professor of English at John Jay College, who views both father and daughter with a sympathy that doesn't quite conceal the book's slightly specious premise. Bronson was far closer to Anna and younger sister Lizzie; Louisa's fiery nature sometimes dismayed him. She only gained his full approval when mistreatment with a mercury-based medicine during the Civil War made her a near-invalid for the rest of her life. This is really a biography of the whole Alcott family, though it narrows to a dual portrait after the wild success of Little Women in 1868 gave Louisa the independence she longed for and Bronson enjoyed more modest acclaim for his book Tablets and lecture tours out West. 26 illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Matteson's lucid, commanding biography casts new light on an unusual father-daughter bond and a new land at war with itself."
"Review" by , "[Matteson] allows readers to glimpse both the minds of these two literary figures and the times in which they lived....Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Matteson capably describes Louisa's feverish devotion to her family and to her writing....Carefully researched and sensitively written."
"Review" by , "[T]his book should have appeal beyond academia. Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott may be larger-than-life personas in the history of American letters, but this engaging dual biography points out how thoroughly human they were."
"Review" by , "In producing such a rounded, detailed and compelling portrait of Louisa, Bronson, their family and their times, Matteson has provided us with a valuable context for appreciating that enduring masterpiece Little Women."
"Review" by , "None of the Alcotts had an easy life and reading about them can feel exhausting, particularly when it comes to the longsuffering Abba. But particularly for those unfamiliar with the Alcott story, this is a journey of much interest."
"Synopsis" by , "An amazing story [told] with clarity and intelligence ... colorful and insightful."'"Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times
"Synopsis" by , The beloved author of Little Women was torn between pleasing her idealistic father and planting her feet in the material world.
"Synopsis" by , Louisa May Alcott's name is known universally. Yet, during her youth, the famous Alcott was her father, Bronson--an eminent teacher, lecturer, and admired friend of Emerson and Thoreau. Willful and exuberant, Louisa flew in the face of all her father's intricate theories of child rearing. She, in turn, could not understand the frugal life Bronson preached, one that reached its epitome in the failed utopian community of Fruitlands. In a family that insisted on self-denial and spiritual striving, Louisa dreamed of wealth and fame. At the same time, like most daughters, she wanted her father's approval. As her father struggled to recover from a breakdown and slowly resurrect his career, Louisa learned to support her family, teaching if she must, but finally finding her vocation in writing. This story of their tense yet loving relationship adds dimensions to Louisa's life, her work, and the relationships of fathers and daughters.
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