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Claire (The Captive Reader)

As soon as I saw that picture, even before I started reading your post or saw the painting's title, I thought "that's Jo March."

I think too much of either Tolstoy would be a difficult thing to handle. I cannot handle that level of intensity, however well-expressed it might be!

Heather

http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/tellingstories/ (I can't seem to link straight to this image but it's in the slideshow) confirms that it is Jo - it gives the full title as:
"Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from "The Most Beloved American Writer"
Woman's Home Companion, December 1937" and says that "Rockwell traveled to Louisa May Alcott's home in Concord, Massachusetts, before beginning illustrations for a serialized biography of her life."

LindaY

I'm 99% sure that's a Rockwell illo for an edition of LITTLE WOMEN, and yes, that is Jo--see "Scrabble" the rat and his plump offspring in the rafters?

Danielle

Claire--He really captured the character in his painting, didn't he? I love this picture! They were intense, and the excerpts I read in Revelations was a nice little taste without going overboard!

Heather--Thanks for the link--I took a quick peek and will go through the slideshow next. I knew it was part of the Smithsonian, but I didn't look at their gallery website. So he illustrated her bio, too. I would love to see those as well!

LindaY--How cool--I will have to see if I can find the book with the illustrations--I bet they're all wonderful. I really like his work and will have to see if my library has something showing more of his paintings.

Harriet

Amazing -- I had the exact same experience as Claire -- knew it was Jo before I read what you'd written. I love Rockwell and I love Little Women and I love this painting so thank you for a triple pleasure this morning.
I saw a film about the Tolstoys and would not have been in her shoes for a million pounds/dollars/euros/roubles.

Stefanie

Great card! And poor Sophie. Revelations sounds like a marvelous sampler.

Penny

. . . and yet another commenter who recognizes Jo March. Isn't that a wonderful illustration? I will confess in advance that I will eventually use this one in a post someday, Danielle. So, a double thank you.

Can you imagine the Tolstoy's in today's Twitter/Facebook society? It would be interesting to find some men who have the same feelings and want of love.

Katrina

I see her as Jo March too. Poor Sophie was having a very bad day - or life. I saw the film The Last Station about Tolstoy's last days, it's worth watching, starring Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren.

Danielle

Harriet Devine--I had no idea that Norman Rockwell illustrated Little Women--I'd love to get a copy of that edition. I love his work, too, and reread LW not too long ago as an adult. Louisa May Alcott is such a great writer--and a fascinating woman, too.

Stefanie--I love this postcard--I found it online and think it will have to go up on my bulletin board. Poor Sophie indeed! Revelations is a great overview of women's diaries--I've noted down a number of authors whose diaries I want to get ahold of. Now I can't wait to get started on a full diary and not just an excerpt.

Penny--I wondered when I bought it, but it doesn't explicitly say on the card. It's a delightful painting/illustration! Feel free to use it, too--this is an image that should be shared! :) The Tolstoys were an interesting couple, that's for sure! You do wonder what they would be like in modern society--everything is so public these days!

Katrina--It's strange as Sophie does note in her diary how much she loves him, but I guess she also used her diary to vent. I think they had a very difficult relationship. When it first came out I wasn't all that interested in The Last Station, but after having read more Tolstoy and a bit about them both, I think I will add it to my Netflix queue! And Helen Mirran is always excellent.

Bibiana

I read the book you are reading twice, and plan to read it again. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of many different types of women.

Caroline

I like that pianting a lot. With those mice.
I watched The Last Station last night, about Tolstoy's final years. Hellen Mirren plays Sofia. I'm really not sure whether I liked it. It's odd. He seems to have been odd but so was she. Maybe I will review it.

Kathy

I love the painting, and I did immediately think of LMA and Jo March. Fascinating tidbit from Sophie's journal--perhaps when you get deeper into your journal reading, you will see if men share the same concerns about love. I don't think I've read many--or even any?--men's journals.

Danielle

Bibiana--I borrowed my copy from the library but I am enjoying it so much that I think I will eventually buy a copy. I am now reading the last section and will be sad to finish it. I am looking forward to reading full length diaries next, though.

Caroline--Isn't that a great painting? I love Norman Rockwell. I hope you do write about the Last Station. The movie didn't appeal to me at first, but then I became sort of intrigued by reading a bit more about them. They seem a curious pair.

Kathy--He totally captured the personality of her and she looks just like I imagine, too. It seems from what I've read that women tend to think of these things more than men, but of course I am reading womens' diaries, so am not getting the whole picture.

AJ

I adore Tolstoy -- there can have been few people so intensely alive and aware (if not self-aware!) in his life, his thought, his spirit, and his art. He is one of the few writers who -- for me -- always always rewards the effort. I hope to have read all his works before I shuffle off this mortal coil and the only other writer I can say that about is Chekhov -- who said "While there is a Tolstoy in literature," Chekhov said, "it is pleasant and agreeable to be a writer."

Danielle

AJ--Tolstoy and his wife were very intense and engaged most certainly. Have you read Sophie's diaries? It seems that a huge volume of them came out not long ago--at least I recall seeing a massive volume at the library that I should look through now again. I've only read W&P and Anna K and his works most certainly merit rereading--as a matter of fact I'm sure I didn't do either book justice the first go around. I have another of Tolstoy's books on hand (can't remember which one now without finding it) and of course I want to read more Chekhov, too. That must have been an amazing time to be writing!

AJ

I found a copy of Sophie's diary about a year ago and started it. Got maybe 100 pages in and -- in the midst of other research -- it was been put on the back burner for a bit. I think the two were poorly matched in some ways but her energy level and emotional intensity certainly rival his. I think I "get" Tolstoy more now than I did as a young woman -- I doubt there has ever been a writer better on death, war, and male adolescence. But I'll read him on any subject regardless of how strongly I disagree with him -- e.g. Kreutzer Sonata. Even when he is wrong, I find the way his mind works enthralling. I really enjoyed the Troyat biography and it was much fairer to Sophie than some other bios have been.

LindaY

Heather is right; it's an illustration of Jo as done for a "Woman's Home Companion" article; three other illos were done. Here's a blog post about it:
http://louisamayalcottismypassion.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/solving-the-mystery-of-the-norman-rockwell-illustrations/
on this great LMA blog.

Kathleen

I find diaries to be fascinating reads and this sounds like no exception.

Danielle

AJ--She did love him--there were entries where she writes with him with something akin to adoration, but then I guess diaries are where we turn when things are bothering us--so not surprising that she writes out of unhappiness, too. I will have to read more about them both. And I do want to read more of his work--I think Anna K is definitely a book that will take more than one go to really love and appreciate (though I thought it was exceptional when I read it...)

Linda--Thanks for the link. That makes sense--he did do magazine illustrations. Now must click over to see if they show the other two!

Kathleen--This has been a great survey of women's diaries--if you like them, I definitely recommend it!

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