Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia

Fruitlands The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia 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 by Bronson Alcott whose ten

  • Title: Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia
  • Author: Richard Francis
  • ISBN: 9780300140415
  • Page: 205
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 of Little Women, was among the members and an Englishman called Charles Lane, under the watchful gaze of Emerson, Thoreau, and oThis 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 of Little 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.

    One thought on “Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia”

    1. I should state at the outset that I am no admirer of Bronson Alcott - a narcissistically inflated self if such a one ever existed. I would recommend to the editors of the next edition of the DSM that they insert his photo into whatever section describes personality disorders of this kind. And as far as I can tell, Alcott amounted to little more than a sidekick/sideshow of transcendentalism - that featured Alcott as his very own barker.Francis' book presents no information or insight that would m [...]

    2. Covers the period in the 1840s when Bronson Alcott and his friend Charles Lane enacted their plan to establish a Utopian community on a farm in Massachusetts. I’ve read a few biographies of Louisa May Alcott so I had basic knowledge about Fruitlands’ place in her unconventional childhood. I hoped the focus of this book would be the perspective of Abba May Alcott and her daughters. However, that wasn’t realistic given that the two men were the dominant figures in the short existence of the [...]

    3. This is a pretty cozy book. It's a history of the Fruitlands, a utopian community that tried to establish itself in Harvard, Massachusetts in the 1840s. It was started by Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa May Alcott, who grew up to write Little Women.I think it’s so fascinating how Bronson was such a radical but how he was kind of a mess of a human being himself. Okay, that’s a little harsh, but I just love seeing the relationship dynamics between him and his wife as they struggle to unde [...]

    4. The author looks at the failure of Fruitlands from the perspective, and largely through the writing, of Charles Lane. So far, so good, and a valuable effort. However, his view of Abigail Alcott as responsible for the failure of this experiment, as well as the author of the earlier rift with Elizabeth Peabody, supported of course by the fecklessness and authoritarianism of Bronson, is unnecessarily harsh on Abigail and does not take enough into account the physical hardship of one woman running a [...]

    5. Having toured the Fruitlands' Museum that encompasses several buildings, this was a fascintating read. Also having read Little Women for a recent book club selection, it was equally as fascinating to read that the background for many of Louisa's fictional situations were a result of her Fruitlands experiences. The inter-connected friendships of Alcott, Emerson and Thoreau as well as the people who sought differing lifestyles in the communities spinging up in Europe and New England was educationa [...]

    6. I should be clear that the 5-star rating is only for people who are interested in this topic (Fruitlands, Bronson Alcott, Transcendentalism, utopian communities in the early 1800's). I am moderately interested in this topic, and enjoyed both the information that was presented and the writing style. The author, Richard Francis, evidently has written about other utopian communities and he brings that knowledge to "Fruitlands." I am left puzzled as to why Bronson Alcott is held in such esteem - may [...]

    7. This was an interesting read, but it might or might not be what you expect. This is much more about Bronson Alcott than about Louisa, for instance. So if you were looking for something Louisa-centric, this isn't it. I'm interested in both of them, so that was OK.You'll see a lot more background information about Bronson Alcott and about Charles Lane in this book than you've probably seen in other books. It's largely based on surviving diary entries and letters from the family, friends, and resid [...]

    8. I wish I could give three and a half stars. This book covered an incredible amount of interesting history, citations and all, but a little more narrative and background would have made it a bit easier for a non-academic like myself to enjoy. Overall, an excellent read, but you do need your thinking cap on when you sit down with it.

    9. This was actually ver interesting in terms of utopian communities and the Alcott family. It's unfinished however. I think I just couldn't get into as much detail as was necessary to finish it. Still, happy to have it on my shelf.

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