Little Women

I just noticed that I never properly started this page- just jumped in without any explanation at all. Sorry about that- adding the beginning now.

Little Women is one of the first books I owned and read and is still one of my favorites. (I know, boring, but I like what I like). The copy I had growing up was a horrible 1930s Whitman- acid pages, abridged and only the first part of the book. Yes, I know it was published in two parts originally… but I can’t find where Whitman ever published the second part. The only saving grace of the book were the pictures by Juanita Bennett- black and white line drawings but I love them.

No other copy has those illustrations so I knew I was going to have to add them to whatever copy I chose but I did want one on good paper and unabridged. I actually planned to tip the illustrations into a good copy and be done- pretty simple, yes? After all, Little Women is one of the most popular books in the world and has been bound in leather hundreds of times, surely one copy out there meets my not-to-stringent requirements.

Then I discovered the Norman Rockwell illustrations.

Now, there have been a bunch of different sets of illustrations done for Little Women, including a very nice set by Tasha Tudor. And I am very picky about illustrations- they have to be the right ones for the book. I went about finding the Rockwell ones… and discovered that they had been printed exactly once in a set of magazines (Woman’s Home Companion 1938, three issues) with a serialized article about Louisa Mae Alcott. And they’re perfect… the great American illustrator painting one of the great American books? Yes. So now I had two sets, one black and white and one colour and neither of them ever published in a decent book.

Ok, those are the illustrations I want… Now for the text. Apparently there were objections to the first edition- too much slang, people being too realistic and they were edited out. I prefer the original so I’m having to redo all the text as well as there is not a decently priced copy of the original available as far as I can tell.

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Text from Project Gutenberg- but I have to check it! I’ve already found one mistake… a word added for no apparent reason. Then Juanita Bennett illustrations printed in and blank pages left for the colour Rockwell pictures. Those I’m going to scan and have photographic prints made, affix them to the blank pages and tip in tissue guards.

9/19/2018 The text is horrible! I’ve gotten a virtual copy (University of California, scanned, on line) of the first edition. And I’m having to compare every line, every word and every punctuation mark. I’ve changed so many things back I stopped making a list before I finished the first chapter. And I’m using the text from the 1896 version- I shudder to think how much MORE editing has been done since then! I guess what I am doing is de-editing… which is ridiculous. This should not need to be done.

But, when I finish, I’ll have the original book with the illustrations I love. I’m also going to print a copy of the “Pickwick Portfolio” separately on parchment paper and bind it in as it’s own thing. And I’m going to add a copy of the play they are putting on in the first chapter as an appendix- yes, it really does exist and was printed in a book called “Comic Tragedies” by Jo and Meg.

This is a lot more of a project than I thought it was going to be when I started!! (This is what happens when you go looking for the perfect copy- be warned.)