I first read Short Stories by Louisa May Alcott in a college American Literature course. Prior to this short story collection, my only encounter with Alcott’s writing had been Little Women and even that was an abridged version published in the 1970s or ‘80s and sold to children.
While Little Women is a 19th century coming of age story, the short stories in this volume are focused on the real world, all innocence is lost.
These stories examine topics near and dear to Alcott – the Civil War and women’s rights. What’s more, the stories are a quick read. My copy is only 55 pages long.
Before she wrote Little Women — one of the most popular books for children ever written — Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) served during the Civil War as a volunteer nurse in Washington, D.C. Drawing on that episode in her life, she produced Hospital Sketches, a fictionalized account of her experiences at the military hospital in Georgetown.This collection of five poignant short stories contains two pieces from Hospital Sketches, published in 1863: “Obtaining Supplies,” recounting the obstacles Alcott’s fictionalized persona, Tribulation Periwinkle, faced in gaining her independence and getting to Washington; and “A Night,” a moving account of her encounter with a dying soldier. Also included are “My Contraband,” a gripping tale of vengeance involving a Civil War nurse, her Confederate patient and his former slave; “Happy Women,” a fictionalized essay about four “spinsters” with a positive attitude toward their marital status; and “How I Went Out to Service,” an autobiographical sketch of a young woman’s undaunted pursuit of financial independence.
Rich in their simple eloquence, these stories provide revealing glimpses of the concerns and literary techniques of one of America’s most admired authors.
(Source: Dover Publications)
Short stories are an excellent way to introduce yourself to classic writers. The flowery prose is generally much easier to digest in this shorter form. If you’re looking to dive into Alcott’s work, this is a good way to do it.
Have you read Short Stories by Louisa May Alcott? What did you think of it?
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