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Fruitlands : The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia



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Yale University Press
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This is the edition with a publication date of 11/2/2010.

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This is the first definitive account of Fruitlands, one of history's most unsuccessful--but most significant--utopian experiments. It was established in Massachusetts in 1843 by Bronson Alcott (whose ten-year-old daughter Louisa May, future author ofLittle Women,was among the members) and an Englishman called Charles Lane, under the watchful gaze of Emerson, Thoreau, and other New England intellectuals. Alcott and Lane developed their own version of the doctrine known as Transcendentalism, hoping to transform society and redeem the environment through a strict regime of veganism and celibacy. But physical suffering and emotional conflict--particularly between Lane and Alcott's wife, Abigail--made the community unsustainable. Drawing on the letters and diaries of those involved, Richard Francis explores the relationship between the complex philosophical beliefs held by Alcott, Lane, and their fellow idealists and their day-to-day lives. The result is a vivid and often very funny narrative of their travails, demonstrating the dilemmas and conflicts inherent to any utopian experiment and shedding light on a fascinating period of American history.

Author Biography

Richard Francis has taught at universities on both sides of the Atlantic and has previously written on Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, and on the Salem witch trials. He is also a novelist.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
The Seed
To Reproduce Perfect Menp. 15
Now I Know What Thought Isp. 32
A Joy in a Winding Sheetp. 46
Fabling of Worldsp. 69
Rembrandt's Potp. 84
The Fruit
Hesitations at the Plungep. 97
The Mind Yields, Falters, and Failsp. 107
The Little Wicket Gatep. 117
The Principle of Inverse Ratiop. 137
Diffusive Illimitable Benevolencep. 155
The New Waves Curlp. 173
Utter Subjection of the Bodyp. 185
The Consociate Family Lifep. 199
Penniless Pilgrimagesp. 211
Softly Doth the Sun Descendp. 227
Nectar in a Sievep. 240
Cain and Abelp. 253
Tumbledown Hallp. 269
Conclusionp. 278
Notesp. 284
Sourcesp. 303
Indexp. 311
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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