What Is Classic Remarks?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
How Can I Participate?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
This Week’s Prompt:
What classic did you love when you were younger—and you still love now?
I first discovered Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women around the fourth grade. Entering Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy’s world was a delightful adventure. They always had so much fun together, whether they were putting on a play, writing a newspaper, or going on a picnic. The sisters were all very different from each other, it is true, but that was part of the book’s secret. No matter whether you identified with Meg’s desire to belong, Beth’s shyness, Amy’s dreams, or Jo’s ambition, you could find someone who seemed to share your hidden hopes and fears. They could be a role model, a mirror, or a friend. What mattered was that they were there.
Little Women has never aged for me. I never reread it and find that I have outgrown its characters, its story, or even its prose. I never even find it to be the dreaded “preachy” and “moralistic” horror that others seem to find it. Rereading Little Women is always a little bit like going back home, back to a time when things seemed a little simpler, even if they weren’t, and when fun and adventure could be had without much money–only a very good friend. And the characters? 152 years later, they are still relevant and still relatable. They have not aged at all. Not for me and not for the many fans who still love them.
Older and (hopefully) wiser, I can see now why Little Women continues to charm me with its story of four girls hoping to grow up to be good little women. I appreciate that four very different girls still love and support each other, even when they do not understand each other. I am impressed at how Louisa May Alcott enters so unreservedly into childhood, and reminds grown-up readers how painfully important everything can seem when you are young. I love that everyday moments are depicted as meaningful and interesting, and that simplicity is honored and not scorned. Still, even as I recognized these important features of the book, reading Little Women is always an emotional act for me, not solely an intellectual one.
Little Women is, yes, for me, a bit of escapism. I love returning to a time when girls could make their own fun at home by baking or reading or going on a picnic. I love the thrill of attending balls with Meg, of having adventures with Jo and Laurie, of setting off to new places as the girls grow. I love how fully they seem to live their lives, taking in each present moment. They may not be saving the world or learning magic or beating up bad guys, but their lives are interesting. And I just like being a part of it. In the end, can you give a book any greater praise than that?