By Leonard Unger
Covers Jane Addams to Sidney Lanier
Read Online or Download American Writers Supplement I, Parts 1 & 2 PDF
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Extra resources for American Writers Supplement I, Parts 1 & 2
These tales, recently discovered and edited by Madeleine Stern, took the hidden drama of Sylvia, the wayward destructive femme fatale, and exploited it to the utmost. Given the public rejection of Moods, one wonders where Alcott found the courage to do this, even pseudonymously. Much later in Jo's Boys (1886), she created the fascinating character of the wild vagabond Dan, the "black sheep" of Plumfield, Jo March Bhaer's school for difficult boys. Jo tries to reclaim Dan from his restless, law-breaking ways, and she succeeds—but too late.
Like Edgar Allan Poe, Alcott brushed away the intricacies created by other more socially-minded authors in their awareness that good as well as evil exists and plays its part. More interested in the criminal mentality than in the process of unmasking it, Alcott presents the scenario of deception, the essential plot of the sensation story, as its own raison d'etre. Behind a Mask (1866), Alcott's masterpiece in this genre, concerns a governess called Jean Muir, a kind of alter ego to Sylvia. Jean poses as a nineteen-year-old victim of fortune loved too well by too many.
War, like all injustice, fell hardest on the most defenseless, in this case the very old and the very young, who had been rendered listless and emaciated by years of malnutrition. In northern France, Addams watched as a row of children—"a line of moving skeletons"—passed before an examining physician. Always with the journalist's (or the novelist's) eye for the telling detail, she reported: To add to the gruesome effect not a sound was to be heard, for the French physician had lost his voice as a result of shell shock during the first bombardment of Lille.
American Writers Supplement I, Parts 1 & 2 by Leonard Unger