A couple of years ago I hosted a Little Women Read-Along event here on the blog and…
I never really closed up the event. It’s not really in the best interest of the blogger to begin a post in this negative fashion but I have to be honest. However, this kind of neglect is going to work on my favor because I’m going to talk about a topic in the framework of my favorite piece of literature. I’m going to spend the next several few lines talking about literature, translation and communication. Aaaaaaannd even though I have written about this book before, I’ve never properly reviewed it so I thought I’d knock out a few thoughts on the story as well and count this as my official review. This will be quite different than my usual review format but stay tuned, it’ll be fun!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Rating: 5.0 – 5.0
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is an American literary treasure that has been a favorite of mine for over a decade. The story of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March is centered around themes of family, coming of age, friendship, life pursuits, heartache, and cherishing those things that are most important to us.
The story begins with the four sisters coping with the challenges of life in Civil War America. While they’re used to a comfortable life, they now face the struggles of scrimping and pinching to help their mother, affectionately called ‘Marmee’, maintain their household while their father serves as a chaplain in the war.
The experiences of these four sisters are not so unlike those girls face today. Meg and Amy deal with desires to be popular, pretty and well-liked. Beth learns to come out of her comfort zone and stay diligent. Jo, the heroine of the book and my literary doppelgänger, struggles with patience, social awkwardness, and finding a place for herself in the world.
Throughout the mishaps, tears, and triumphs, Marmee keeps the girls grounded and focused on what’s important. She challenges them to do their best in life and rise above their weaknesses and struggles. She encourages them to embrace their womanhood but also push past society’s narrow and sometimes silly expectations. She values simplicity, hard work, and truthfulness and wants her daughters to do the same. The story’s heroine may be Jo and the title may be Little Women but the woman behind these girls is a mother whose heart and soul helps to shape them into beautiful people.
And it would do no good whatsoever to not mention Laurie, the lovable boy next door and Jo’s BFFL. He’s got his own set of coming-of-age challenges that I totally appreciate and enjoy reading about. If you’ve read the book, you understand the struggle when it comes to Jo and Laurie. I don’t need to say more. It’s been over ten years and I still struggle sometimes even though I completely understand why. If you haven’t read the book, well, I’m not going to spoil it for you :).
I love, love, love this book and will never tire of the book or the movie adaptations (there are 4 that I know of). It’s very sweet and charming. It’ll make you laugh, cry and may make you a bit angry at times but hey, that’s what a good story does right? If it’s not there yet, I urge you fellow classic literature lovers, add it to your list of books to read!
Okay, let’s switch gears in the discussion for a minute and talk a little history and language.
This is a very American story. Four young women growing up in a turbulent society and while the book isn’t at all about the Civil War or its aftermath, it can’t be ignored that these girls are finding their wings in a time in history when America was redefining so much of its own identity. A lot was going on in the second half of 19th century America, including the world of literature. Alcott’s father was a transcendentalist. This was an American philosophy explored by several authors of the day including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalists believe in the idea that people have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that transcends what we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. A transcendentalist believes that they can trust themselves alone to decide what is right and wrong. This is not a philosophy I subscribe to but I recognize its place in American ideology, especially in this time period.
So what happens when a story so engrained in it’s culture is translated into another language and culture? What must carry over into the new language in order for the story to retain its identity? I don’t know anything about translating literary works but I do know this – there’s more to a story than just the words on a page. If a translator can capture the life between the lines of a piece, then that is a job well done. After all, we read literature not just to consume words strung together one after another, we read literature to capture a piece of another time or place than where we are. Alcott’s Little Women evokes homey, cozy feelings in me as well as inspires a desire to pursue life to the fullest and do work that matters. That’s the beauty of a well-told story and each language, each culture does this in it’s own unique way.
The woman who read and loved Little Women when it first hit the bookstores is quite different from a woman like me who reads and loves it more than a century later. But even though we have completely different lives, we both share an experience with the story. The same should go for a translated work. Little Women could be translated into any other language but the reader should still experience the warmth, the sense of home, and ‘Americaness’ that I imagine Alcott intended her readers to experience.
I think when groups and cultures share their stories, we not only become better intercultural communicators, but we also become more empathetic in our dealings with one another and better apt to treat each other with understanding and respect. Translations of great works of literature, online content and conversations, and businesses can open people all over the world to wonderful experiences and add incredible depth to life. After all, we were made to communicate with each other, right? If the heart and soul that a writer or communicator puts into their work can be translated along with the words, translators and translation services like Smartling have extended the gift of that experience to those that the author could not originally reach.
And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing!
Happy reading y’all!
I’m taking it easy this time around due to the fact that I seriously need to pay more attention to my TBR list and my class load this semester is about to be very heavy!
Here’s my 20:
1. Little House in the Big Woods//Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. Anne of the Island//L.M. Montgomery
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings//Maya Angelou
4. An Old Fashioned Girl//L.M. Alcott
5. An American Tragedy//Theodore Dreiser
6. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
7. The Old Man and the Sea//Ernest Hemingway
8. Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown//Maud Hart Lovelace
9. Of Mice and Men//John Steinbeck
10. Heaven to Betsy//Maud Hart Lovelace
11. All-of-a-Kind Family// Sydney Taylor
12. Silas Marner//George Eliot
13. Mrs. Dalloway//Virginia Woolf
14. A Streetcar Named Desire//Tennessee Williams
15. The Jungle//Upton Sinclair
16. The Death of a Salesman//Arthur Miller
17. To My Husband and Other Poems//Anne Bradstreet
18. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm//Kate Douglas Wiggin
19. What Katy Did//Susan Coolidge
20. Jane Eyre//Charlotte Bronte
Can’t wait for next Monday!!
 Make 15 book related confessions:
- I love, love, love the way my books look all lined up in their bookcases.
- I, for real, spend a considerable amount of time shopping used books online, comparing prices, editions, and conditions.
- When it comes to my material possessions, I’m pretty much worth the clothes in my closet and the books on my shelves. Considering the fact that I shop used/thrift 7 times out of 10, the resale value is pennies on the dollar.
- If all the money I’ve spent on library fines could be refunded to me. . . let’s just say I could buy a good many books from my Amazon wish lists and still have money left over to treat myself to dinner.
- I get physically giddy when walk into Barnes & Noble.
- I bring a book with me everywhere even if I know I may not get a chance to read it.
- I’m building a collection of all my favorite children’s books.
- I do judge books by their cover. Just sayin’.
- I do love my Kindle Paperwhite but when all is said and done, I’m a hardcover kinda’ reader.
- I feel sorry for people who don’t enjoy reading.
- I know I might get grief for this one and I know the genre is an artistic one in it’s right but when someone says they read a comic book I still don’t consider it the same thing as reading a regular book.
- Gilbert Blythe is ten times better in the book than in the movies. Don’t get me wrong, he’s amazing in the movies, there’s just more of him to love in the books!
- I heard they’re making John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars into a movie and I’m nervous they’re going to get Hazel and Augustus all wrong…
- Reading outside of my intellectual comfort zone is such a thrilling experience!
- I think people underestimate the power of the written word.
Have you any bookish confessions to make? It’s quite a fun exercise, you should give it a go!
This post is linked up HERE.
Happy reading, y’all!
I’m a bit late in my master post for this event, but I just wanted to write a few lines about what I’m reading for Austen in August this year!
I’ve chosen Pride and Prejudice as my Austen novel. I’ve never finished reading the book and I’m really enjoying it so far!! I’m already on Chapter 9 so I may have time to crack open Northanger Abbey as well. I don’t want to push it but we shall see.
I also bought copies of A Jane Austen Devotional and A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen. The devotional is a sweet collection of thoughts that draw biblical truths from Austen’s work. It’s light, feel good stuff that is a nice way to begin or end the day. Nothing too deep but a nice read so far. A Truth Universally Acknowledged is also really good so far. I’ve only read the first essay but I’m enjoying the lovely commentary on all things Austen!
Looking forward to all the posts and reviews this month!
Happy reading y’all :).
The Classics Club Spin has commenced! The wheel has spun, the number chosen and Classics Clubbers are scanning their lists for the lucky book which is to be finished by April 1st!
And the number is…14!!
That means I will be reading The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass!!
Changing it up with a little non-fiction! This is great because not only is this a title on my Classics Club list and my TBR 2013 list, it’ll also count toward the Nerdy Non-Fiction Reading Challenge so I’m doing triple duty with this one :). Unfortunately, I don’t own this beautiful Barnes & Noble copy, but I do have it on my Kindle Paperwhite so all is well :).
How’d y’all make out? Are you excited about the book you ended up with or perhaps a bit terrified?
With all this reading and book reviewing I’ve been doing will will be doing, there is a question that I’ve never quite been able to answer for myself:
I still haven’t decided whether or not I count audiobooks I’ve listened to as books I’ve read.
Part of me says yes and part of me says no. I’ve been an audio bookworm for years and still haven’t settled that in my head. I just think reading and listening are two different things. Or has reading become the all-purpose term for taking in information from a book? Whether you physically hold the book in your hands or your parents read it to you before bed or you pop the tape into your player doesn’t matter, but rather that you are taking in the story or information that the author penned. It certainly sounds better to say, “Oh yeah I read that book awhile ago,” instead of “Yeah I listened to that on tape once.” (Okay, I know books-on-tape are so very antiquated, but you get my meaning!) Often, after I’ve finished an audiobook, I’ll want to get my hands on a physical copy so I can read it and pick up on anything I might have missed. This is usually the case with non-fiction titles. However, I don’t hesitate too much to say that I’ve read a novel I’ve only listened too.
I don’t know.
I know I’m probably over-thinking this :P.
What do y’all think? How do you read? Which do you prefer? Do you consider audiobooks and hard copies equals?
Y’all have a blessed day =)
Image courtesy of africa/Freedigitalphotos.net
It’s February!! Yay!! I would love to sit and write for a bit but I have bread to bake, laundry to do, fridge and pantry to clean, assignments to go over…but alas, I shan’t bore you to tears. I seriously need to work on the whole getting up earlier thing :P.
Really quick though, I just want to post about the 2 read-alongs I’ll be participating in this month.
I’m looking forward to this as I have never read anything by Dickens! I’d love to be adventurous and tackle a couple of his works but seeing as how February is the shortest month of the year…yeah, not happening!! I will be reading The Old Curiosity Shop, a copy of which has been sitting on my shelve for around a decade! I finally have an excuse to pick it up and read it!
Both To Kill a Mockingbird and The Jungle are on the list of book options. I’ve chosen to reread Harper Lee’s classic. If I have time, I’ll read The Jungle too, but I’m not pushing it!!
Click the links to find out about both read-alongs!!
That’s all for now! Gotta run!
What are y’all reading this month?
Have a blessed day =)
Writers and bookworms alike have stacks and lists of books they want and/or need to read but can never seem to tackle. Well, I happen to be one such writer/bookworm! So this year, I’ve decided to join the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader.
The goal is to complete 12 books from your “To Be Read” list by the end of 2013. You can check out the official rules here. BUT HURRY! The sign-up deadline is January 5th! Adam has graciously extended the deadline due to the challenge’s popularity and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season!!
So here goes TBR 2013!!
- The Pilgrim’s Progress//John Bunyan
- The Count of Monte Cristo//Alexandre Dumas
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
- The Narrative of Fredrick Douglass
- Of Thee I Zing//Laura Ingraham
- 1776//David McCullough
- Single Men are Like Waffles – Single Women are Like Spaghetti: Friendship, Romance, and Relationships that Work//Bill and Pam Ferrel
- The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement//Jean M. Twenge & W. Keith Campbell
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything//Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
- The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30)//Mark Bauerlein
- A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue//Wendy Shalit
- Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before//Jean M. Twenge
- Redeeming Love//Francis Rivers
- Teen 2.0//Robert Epstein
What do you plan to read this year?
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”