Experiments in Chick-Lit

I finished Little Women without opening the freezer even once through the reading. Then, true to Litta spirit, I read the afterword, and went on to read the wiki articles on Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism and Abolitionism. I would go on, but the list drags a bit.

One thing that struck me as odd was how critics praised the book for being true to real life. And sure enough, Ms. Alcott had based it on her own. Jo struck me as a particularly well-chiseled character. Apparently, the author never intended for her to get married, but on being pressured to do so, set her own standards and appalled a lot of young girls and old women in the 1860’s.

This was all very well, but what struck me was how unrealistic most of the other characters were. The girls were given foibles to endear them to the reader, but the parents were grown up Goody Two Shoes’. The girls all grew up to be fine young women with fairly modern ideas, but then almost completely following their parents on the path to Heaven.

Now, as far as chick-lit goes, there are definitely that have been better planned and better written. Jane Austen, who Tejo wishes never graced the already stuffy halls of pre-Victorian English, made a better job of disguising her characters. The language may have been more tortuous, but the books were infinitely more believable. In contrast, Ms. Alcott’s thinly veiled campaign for feminism sounded like a guide to get to the next best thing to Utopia. Her arguments favouring charity to the poor gentry show that though she has suffered much, she really had no idea how the ‘beggars’, who, according to her, ‘get by’, really suffer.

One point in favour of the book, though, is the language. I never had much stomach for Dickens, except for that delightful piece of work called The Christmas Carol, and I expected a very similar kind of treatment from this book. It would do well to remember that, for all their egregious digressions from the English language, Americans do write in a more practical way. That, and the occasional touches of humour that lighten up the suffocating gravitas of the novel.

I do wish I had a Wodehouse at hand right now, but as I possess neither the book nor the funds to procure one, I will have to settle with seeing Joey cry before Beth dies. Should I have mentioned spoiler alert?

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4 thoughts on “Experiments in Chick-Lit

  1. Saagar says:

    You sonuvabitch.

  2. Raps says:

    And a good day to you too, dear sir.

  3. Arun says:

    This looks like a conversation between Han Solo and C-3PO.
    I couldn’t bring myself to complete Little Women, Rapu. And now that I know Beth dies, I’d still rather stay away. By the way, I’m reading Oscar Wilde these days. Next up will be dear old Wodehouse.

  4. Dela says:

    Odd, coming from the guy who liked Twilight.
    The fact that 3 of my five favourite writers are British (Orwell, Wodehouse and Dickens) notwithstanding, I find most British writers quite annoying too.
    ‘Little Women’ was one of the few works of chick-lit I managed to complete. I liked Amy the most- for one thing, she is the geekiest of the lot. For another, she was portrayed by Kirsten Dunst in the movie.
    But yes, most the other characters were quite cliched.

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