Sacramental Shopping: Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism (Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies)

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9781611684377: Sacramental Shopping: Louisa May Alcott, Edith Wharton, and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism (Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies)

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.

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About the Author:

SARAH WAY SHERMAN is an associate professor of English and American studies at the University of New Hampshire.

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

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Book Description University Press of New England, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # POW9781611684377

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Book Description University Press of New England, United States, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # POW9781611684377

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Book Description University Press of New England, 2013. Trade paperback. Book Condition: New. New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 336 p. Becoming Modern: New Nineteenth-Century Studies (Paperback). Audience: General/trade. Bookseller Inventory # 759263

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