Twain, Alcott, and the Birth of the Adolescent Reform Novel

Twain, Alcott, and the Birth of the Adolescent Reform Novel

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Scholars traditionally distinguish Mark Twain from Louisa May Alcott based on gender differences, but Roberta Seelinger Trites argues that there are enough similarities between the two authors' intellectual lives that their novels share interconnected social agendas. Trites does not imply that Twain and Alcott influenced each other - indeed, they had little effect on each other - but, paradoxically, they wrote on similar topics because they were so deeply affected by the Civil War, by cataclysmic emotional and financial losses in their families, by their cultural immersion in the tenets of Protestant philosophy, and by sexual tensions that may have stimulated their interest in writing for adolescents. Trites demonstrates how the authors participated in a cultural dynamic that marked the changing nature of adolescence in America, provoking a literary sentiment that continues to inform young adult literature. Both intuited that the transitory nature of adolescence makes it ripe for expressions about human potential for change and reform. ""Twain, Alcott, and the Birth of the Adolescent Reform Novel"" explores the effects these authors' extraordinary popularity had in solidifying what could be called the adolescent reform novel. The factors that led Twain and Alcott to write for youth, and the effects of their decisions about how and what to write for that audience, involve the literary and intellectual history of two people - and the nation in which they lived.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 236 pages
  • 160.02 x 233.68 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • Iowa, United States
  • English
  • Us
  • 1587296225
  • 9781587296222

Review quote

"Trites examines in depth, as no scholar has done before her, the intricate parallels between the lives, works, attitudes, and social contexts of Samuel Clemens and Louisa May Alcott. This is an important contribution by a first-rate scholar who makes her case with verve and energy."--J.D. Stahl, professor of English at Virgina Tech, author, "Mark Twain, Culture, and Gender," co-editor, "Crosscurrents of Children's Literature"
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About Roberta Seelinger Trites

Roberta Seelinger Trites is a professor of English at Illinois State University. The author of Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature (IOWA 2000), which won the 2002 Children's Literature Association Book Award, and Waking Sleeping Beauty: Feminist Voices in Children's Novels (IOWA 1997), which won an American Library Association Choice Award in 1997, she is currently president of the Children's Literature Association.
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