I just read Geraldine Brooks’ latest novel March. It is a re-telling of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women from the point of view of the absent father. March, a staunch abolitionist and chaplain in the union army during the Civil War, provides us with an extraordinarily broad perspective on race and gender politics, focusing, for example on the racism within the union army, or the complex nature of racism within the Northern abolitionist movement. The novel is a historically quite enjoyable trip back into the 19th century, well researched and full of neat little encounters with people such as Emerson (can’t seem to get rid of him lately). Apart from the fact that this was a novel I actually enjoyed (which I cannot really say for many of the novels I recently read), I feel compelled to ask the Lukacsian question: why this kind of novel at this point in history? While the novel itself is quite successful in what it is trying to accomplish I am in fact more interested in the desiring structures that motivated the “author as producer”–why re-tell that particular novel, why the phallocentric perspective shift, why this nostalgia for the father who makes history happen far away from his little women? I can’t quite figure it out, but I would be interested in hearing what people who have also read this think. Other than that today is a writing day again and I need to get back to dealing with the problem of reification (see Lukacs and Bewes).
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