Louisa May Alcott

Hospital Sketches, written in 1862, is a chronicle of Alcott’s experiences as an army nurse during the Civil War. “Nurse Tribulation Periwinkle,” as Alcott calls herself, performs her duties with zeal, which soon gives way to horror as the wounded from Fredericksburg are brought in and she sees “several stretchers, each with its legless, armless, or desperately wounded occupant.” Like many of her other sketches, these are marked by dramatic shifts in tone–from cheerful enthusiasm to horror, from comedy to tragedy.

In Reminiscences of Ralph Waldo Emerson  (1882), written on the day of his funeral, and Recollections of My Childhood (1888), a posthumously published memoir, Alcott turns her attention to the past, particularly her early childhood in Concord, MA. She recalls how important Emerson’s essays were to her and how generous he was in sharing books from his library when the “book mania” seized her as an adolescent.

Program time: 45 minutes

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