Abstract

Modern scholarship has documented the ways in which many nineteenth-century American writers have addressed environmental issues in their works. This essay intervenes in discussions regarding the depiction of nature in nineteenth-century American literature through an examination of Louisa May Alcott's short fiction. It focuses on Alcott's “A Whisper in the Dark” (1863) and “V.V., or Plots and Counterplots” (1865), exploring the ways in which the environment is represented. This analysis exhibits Alcott's insightful awareness of the immense and drastic environmental changes occurring in early nineteenth-century America while simultaneously registering Alcott's optimism about human beings nurturing a sustained relationship with the nonhuman world. The several instances of “environmental evocations” in Alcott's short stories indicate in Alcott an environmentally-attuned sensibility whose scope has been largely neglected.

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