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Alcott, Little Women, and the Popular Sublime
Linköping University, Sweden.
2013 (English)In: American Studies in Scandinavia, ISSN 0044-8060, Vol. 45, no 1-2, 135-148 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In my reading of Alcott’s Little Women tetralogy (1868-1886) I argue that the aesthetics it proclaims - mainly in the representation of the development of Jo’s literary endeavours - can be conceived in terms of what I here define as a ”popular sublime”. In short, it consists of a depiction of everyday existence that transcends into political dimensions and in the case of Jo runs from a sharply cut and exaggerated melodramatic style over sensationalist thrills before it finally lands in sentimentalism with a political aim. I thus claim the popular sublime to be a conceptual move away from the eighteenth-century elitism in which the sublime experience caused magnificient existential angst in male solitude instead of the empathic tears and communal smiles as effected in for instance Alcott’s and Beecher Stowe’s sentimental realism of the nineteenth-century. In the end, the popular sublime is all about recognizing the nobleness of others and the sublimity in all mankind which is the democratic message it can be said to convey.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 45, no 1-2, 135-148 p.
Keyword [en]
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men, Jo's Boys, the popular sublime, political sentimentalism, gender, aesthetics
National Category
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-114875OAI: diva2:794820
Available from: 2015-03-12 Created: 2015-03-12 Last updated: 2016-05-03Bibliographically approved

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Fjelkestam, Kristina
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