Given the way the author addressed her readers, e.g.
Don't laugh at the spinsters, dear girls....
Gentlemen, which means boys,...
I'd say that Alcott thought she was addressing younger readers. (Both of these are from Little Women
Chapter 43, so in Part II, which you all would probably consider Good Wives
.) Of course, that hasn't stopped me from just finishing the umpteenth reread since I devoured my mother's childhood 7-volume set back in the dark ages. Little Women
, Little Men
, Jo's Boys
, An Old Fashioned Girl
, Under the Lilacs
, Eight Cousins
, Rose in Bloom
. We had to borrow Jack and Jill
elsewhere, as it had mysteriously disappeared. Of these, the one I remember thinking "too young" at the ripe old age of 9 or 10 was Under the Lilacs
, but none of them seemed "too old." Jane Eyre
, on the other hand, was of no interest to me as a child once she left school.
But I wonder how many kids read Alcott for fun these days, given that two of my university students just asked me what "erroneous" meant on an exam. I am wondering what they'd make of "philoprogenitiveness."
(LW chapter 45)