Jo, Friedrich and Adaptive Attractiveness
Podcast Transcript Part 4
Gerwig said that Laurie is jo´s first feminist ally and that Laurie wants Jo to step into the adult world. When I got into this point of the interview I was like what is this imaginary book that she has read since none of that happens in the actual novel. When Laurie proposes Jo, he says that once they marry she doesn´t need to write and she has more important things to do like take care of him. He is a manchild. If anything Jo is the adult in that relationship and she is frustrated that he is behaving like a young boy, even in his early twenties. The person who saves Laurie is Amy because he inspires him to better himself, but that´s not in this film or any other film.
Here is a quote from Little Women fan @heatherfield
“Gerwig clearly found a different version of the book than the one we read. it is important to consider these books in the context of the period and culture they were written and unfortunately, it is something that is often forgotten in the adaptations. But how can you understand a story and a character if you don’t know the cultural and societal reasons that motivate them? I really hate when people say “Jo should have stayed single and enjoyed her life in New York” like they are thinking about Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the city and don’t think (or don’t know) about the weight that being a spinster was for a woman in the XIX century, psychologically and economically”.
In the 1870s Louisa was making 2 million dollars a year with her children´s books. Which was a lot of money. Yet in her journals, she never seems to be fully content or happy. Money did not bring her happiness, her poor health wasn´t cured and it could not bring Henry back. Nobody likes to admit that they are lonely and especially in the 19th century when the whole idea of romantic love was quite new.
Louisa´s letters to her friend Maggie Lukes are probably the ones where Louisa is most honest about herself and her feelings. She writes about her belief for re-carnation and receiving her “award” in the next life”
“I believe we shall meet again, don´t know how or where. For genuine love is immortal”.
Louisa May Alcott the children´s friend, presented Louisa minus the rough edges, as the genteel spinster aunt Jo. Louisa and her publisher Thomas Niles invented the image and built Louisa into a brand. Alcott scholar Daniel Shealy has echoed this style of branding saying that it was a way to keep Louisa´s public image pure. Edna Cheney who wrote the first Louisa May Alcott biographies also did this by cutting away stories from Louisa´s relationships. For fifty years Cheney´s biography was the only biography available about Louisa and it shaped the views of the future generation about her. In the 19th century reputation was everything for a woman, and Louisa being in a public position, was particularly careful about her reputation. Her fling with younger Laddie Wisniewski and her love for older men could have caused troubles if the word got out and there are times when Louisa seemed to have been ashamed of her position as a spinster.
Quote from Jimena:
Greta also sold Laurie as “the first ally in literature”, but then reading the book, I was like “am I supposed to like him?” He does a lot of great things, very considerate things for Amy especially. But there are other times where he is not a good person, and definitely not an ally.
I have read about six Louisa May Alcott biographies and they all mention that Louisa fell in love at least once in her life, maybe twice and these two men were Henry Thoreau and Ladislas Wisniewski. Greta Gerwig promotes herself as some kind of Alcott expert, but she obviously ignores these pretty important things about Louisa´s character. When a person is a Jo and Laurie shipper or they have some queer agenda for Jo, they look for information that suits them, even if that information is inaccurate or something that they know to be a lie. This is known as confirmation bias.
Laurie is partially based on Ladislas Wisniewski, the young Polish composer Louisa met in Switzerland and she even wrote to her censored diary a chapter called “little romance with Laddie” which is highly censored. He was 10 years younger than Louisa. When Laurie proposes Jo in the novel he actually begins to make fun of Friedrich and Jo gets really angry about that. There is a whole school of Louisa May Alcott researchers who actually believe that it´s not about Little Women, it is actually Louisa rejecting Laddie and choosing to be with Henry. In later letters between Louisa and May, they criticize Laddie´s behaviour and how immature he is. If Greta Gerwig is a Jo and Laurie shipper, perhaps that is not something she likes to hear, but of course, this is something that every person who studies the parallels between Louisa´s life and Little Women should know.
Alcott scholar John Matteson, who is a Pulitzer prize winner, wrote in one of his online publications that Jo rejects young and adventurous Laurie and Alcott marry Jo to a boring, sexless German professor who forces her to conform into domestic life and prevents her from writing. It was followed by a long rant of how Louisa May Alcott didn´t care about love or marriage. Before I knew that Matteson was a Fritzbhobic I had read his article about John Suhre, the German soldier who Louisa nursed at the war. John Suhre, he was a tall man, with big hand and feet and brown bushy beard and he had a very calm temper. That is exactly how Friedrich is described to look and be like in Little Women. Isn´t that weird that a scholar who writes about a real-life Friedrich doesn´t make any connections with Little Women and even makes fun of him being German, and I bet your life John Matteson knows that Louisa May Alcott loved Germany.
Read the full transcript: https://www.fairychamber.com/the-little-women-project/how-greta-gerwig-lied-aboutwell-everything-jo-friedrich-and-adaptive-attractiveness
Listen to the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQxGobmml0o&t=1851s
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Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com.