By John Matteson
"An notable tale [told] with readability and intelligence ... colourful and insightful."―Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Louisa may perhaps Alcott is understood universally. but in the course of Louisa's formative years, the well-known Alcott used to be her father, Bronson―an eminent instructor and a pal of Emerson and Thoreau. He wanted perfection, for the realm and from his relatives. Louisa challenged him along with her mercurial moods and yearnings for cash and reputation. the opposite prize she deeply coveted―her father's understanding―seemed toughest to win. This tale of Bronson and Louisa's stressful but loving dating provides dimensions to Louisa's lifestyles, her paintings, and the relationships of fathers and daughters.
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Extra resources for Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
Nevertheless, Alcott, his hair already graying, tried to put on a brave face. The loss of the dialogues would have caused him much more grief, he said, if he had not already acquainted himself so thoroughly with their spirit. An otherworldly perfectionism typified Alcott, a man who continually proclaimed the unimportance of the world of things. Like Plato himself, who posited a world of ideal forms of which our own world was only the shadowy, shattered image, Alcott prized ideas infinitely more than physical objects.
Most acquaintances agreed that his most memorable features were his eyes—gentle, pale blue, and deeply set beneath a brow that in some photographs looks faintly Lincolnesque, although the face as a whole lacks Lincoln’s gravity and shrewdness. Perhaps the most fascinating description of Alcott, however, came in verse form from the poet John Townsend Trowbridge, who, later in life, edited some of Louisa May Alcott’s writings: Do you care to meet Alcott? His mind is a mirror Reflecting the unspoken thought of his hearer.
In the bleakest periods of his life, he found comfort as well as income in tending his garden and chopping firewood for himself and his neighbors. It was through horticulture, more than through anything else except his family, that the philosophical Alcott maintained firm contact with the physical world. His hands were rough. His manners were not. In his youth, when he was old enough to get off the farm, Alcott traveled five times through the South as a peddler of Yankee notions. The experience of meeting southern gentlemen and ladies and often sojourning in their homes made a profound impression.