Hardback
October 1, 2013
9781611684223
English
336
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
1.5 Pounds (US)
$85.00 USD
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
October 1, 2013
9781611684377
English
336
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
$40.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

Sacramental Shopping

Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism

Written a generation apart and rarely treated together by scholars, Little Women (1868) and The House of Mirth (1905) share a deep concern with materialism, moral development, and self-construction. The heroines in both grapple with conspicuous consumption, an aspect of modernity that challenges older beliefs about ethical behavior and core identity.

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.

Review

“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

“A highlight of this book is Sherman’s attention to how Wharton constructs Lily’s complex and contradictory self-perceptions, giving us occasional glimpses of an ideal Lily that might have been. Given Wharton’s intense interest in the “republic of the spirit,” her ghost stories, and her ongoing fictional investigations of the intersections between inner and outer worlds, Sherman’s book opens our eyes to the possibilities of taking Wharton criticism in new spiritual and philosophical directions.” —Edith Wharton Book Review

“[Sherman] deftly manages a massive amount of Wharton scholarship, providing some smart and stirring readings of crucial moments in The House of Mirth. . . . Recommended.”

Choice

“[A] masterful piece of historicized literary criticism. . . . Learned and well researched. . . .  Sacramental Shopping . . . is a weighty, unnerving examination of the ways in which modern consumerism is an obstacle and even a lethal threat to identity, [it] also reveals how consumer culture destabilizes the self and undermines identity formation.” —Legacy 32.2

Endorsement

“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

“This is a very fine reading of Alcott’s Little Women and Wharton’s The House of Mirth, two novels that have been much analyzed, but the author has a number of illuminating insights no one else has made. . . . Even readers who know both novels well will be enlightened by such an insightful reading, and for those who don’t know the novels, this is a perfect introduction to them.”

--Elsa Nettels, Mildred and J. B. Hickman Professor of English and Humanities, Emerita, College of William and Mary

9781611684223 : sacramental-shopping-sherman
Hardback
336 Pages
$85.00 USD
9781611684377 : sacramental-shopping-sherman
Paperback / softback
336 Pages
$40.00 USD

Other Titles by Sarah Way Sherman

The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories

Sarah Orne Jewett, edited by Sarah Way Sherman, OtherSarah Way Sherman
Apr 1997 - Univ Of New Hampshire Press
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