Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Talk About A Change Of Pace

I've been reading a great deal of fantasy the last couple of months, particularly kids' fantasy.And though I've enjoyed a lot of it, I've been looking for a diversion. On Monday while I was at the library, I stumbled upon American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. The book was on that list of things to read that's buried in my mind because I'd read a review. So I snatched it up.

I've been interested in the Transcendentalists since my college days when I took a course on the history of women in the United States and wrote a paper on Louisa May Alcott. That is not to say I've ever actually understood what Transcendentalism is. Or pursued the interest very rigorously. (I have many interests I don't pursue very rigorously.) But I have been to Orchard House and Fruitlands, which is sort of like pursuing a Transcendental interest. But not very.

Anyway, on the second page of the book Cheever claims that our Louisa was in love with Thoreau and Emerson. (But not at the same time.) Cheever also says that Henry James gave one of Louisa's books a bad review but then "appropriated the adorable, defiant character of Jo a model for his headstrong and independent American woman, Isabel Archer, in Portrait of a Lady."

Wow. I couldn't get through Portrait of a Lady, but, still. Wow.

I've never been so excited on page two of a nonfiction book. I really, really love historical gossip.

And I'm hoping I'll understand Transcendentalism by the time I'm finished. Because everyone should understand that, right?

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