Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism
Published by: University of New Hampshire Press
Placing both novels at the historical intersection of modern consumer culture and older religious discourse on materialism and identity, Sarah Way Sherman analyzes how Alcott and Wharton rework traditional Protestant discourse to interpret their heroines' struggle with modern consumerism. Her conclusion reveals how Little Women's optimism, still buoyed by otherworldly justice, providential interventions, and the notion of essential identity, ultimately gives way to the much darker vision of modern materialistic culture in The House of Mirth.
Hardcover is un-jacketed.
"One chapter of Sacramental Shopping is devoted to Little Women, the remaining four to The House of Mirth, but Sherman's meticulous, granular exegesis of both novels is illuminating at every point. Those skeptical of the value of close reading are advised to consult Sherman for thick interpretation at its literary, anthropological, and historical best."—American Literature
"Two eminent writers—Louisa May Alcott and Edith Wharton—are the focus of this study about the struggle between moral and material values in American culture. Sherman's analysis of Little Women and The House of Mirth makes clear how both novels rework Protestant discourse. Her connections between these writers and texts are original, penetrating, and illuminating. . . . Professor Sherman has produced meritorious, well-researched study that will permanently change readers' understanding of Little Women and The House of Mirth."—Carol Singley, professor of English, Rutgers University–Camden