Saturday, April 07, 2012

Little Men Continues the Virtuous World of Little Women

Some months ago I read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women for the first time.  I do like it as a moral tale.  I nominated her as a possible American equivalent of Anthony Trollope.

Today I read Little Men.  It is also a fine moral tale.  Since it is set in a school, it is full of opportunities for explicit moral instruction.  Most of these do not take place in the classroom, but in developing the characters of the boys (and some girls) in their interactions with one another outside of class. The charm is in the mild and humorous incidents.  The deep appeal of the novel, though, is about the shaping of good character.

In the comments on my post on Little Women, it was offered that we shouldn't compare Alcott and Trollope, since one was writing children's literature and the other adult literature.  The more I think about this distinction, the less I think it holds up.  I think what the authors have in common is more important than the age of the subjects they write about or for.  They are both portraying a God-ordered world in which good character and good conduct are right and true, and in which those who do right can be happy, whatever their worldly fortunes might be.

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