Margaret's Reviews > Hospital Sketches

Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott
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's review
Dec 31, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: american-literature, american-civil-war, american-history, history, authors-ab, 2017-read, 2009-read
Read from January 24 to 31, 2017

Hospital Sketches describes Alcott's sojourn (cut short due to illness) as a nurse in a Washington, D.C., hospital during the Civil War; it's witty in a rather Dickensian style (Alcott calls herself Tribulation Periwinkle, for example) and touching even though sentimental. I mostly enjoyed it, though I was bothered by Alcott's condescending attitude toward the black people for whose freedom she enthusiastically worked. Although she rejoices at the Emancipation Proclamation, she also clearly stereotypes blacks, as "obsequious, trickish, lazy, and ignorant, yet kind-hearted," and does not provide the kind of individual portrait she does for the white soldiers and doctors.

The edition I read is part of the Bedford Series in History and Culture, which are intended as teaching texts, and I thought the editor, Alice Fahs, did an excellent job in her introduction in placing the book in the context of its time, both literary and historical, and examining Alcott's racial attitudes.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Wow, that sounds fantastic, esp this edition.

Dickens did have a strong influence on Lou, didn't he -- like their literary club in LW! I hadn't actually thought about him as a big figure for her before, oddly.

Margaret I remember when I read Pickwick for the first time and was all "Oh, that's where that came from!"

I rather wonder what she thought of Wilkie Collins.

message 3: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Margaret wrote: "I rather wonder what she thought of Wilkie Collins."

ME TOO. Now that would be fascinating. (Also, _he_ got to write gothicky stuff because he was a man....sigh.)

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