Or Little Women to you.
I have just decided to get rid of my copy of Louisa May Alcott’s famous novel. Was that the right thing to do?
When I began packing the contents of my bookshelves, I was hoping I’d find quite a few books – especially on the back row – that I no longer need. Prune hard, and my new life as a minimalistic witch will get off to a good start. But it turned out to be a disappointingly small number of books I could face parting with.
Unga kvinnor was one of them. I read and loved it when I was quite young. I’m guessing that must have been around its 100th birthday, and I was prejudiced enough not to want to read such an old book with such a stupid title. For whereas Unga kvinnor means exactly the same as Little Women (well, almost, since ung is young and not little), it seemed very antiquated at the time. Kvinna was a word used about old women (or so I believed), and I certainly had no need for a book about them.
But someone gave me a copy (probably the Retired Children’s Librarian again) and I read the book. It wasn’t the only stupidly titled book I had to eat my first opinion over.
And ever since, the book has moved with me. It’s a classic. I liked it. You hang on to stuff like that. But as I tackled my shelves a couple of days ago, I looked at its mottled spine and – OK – its nice purple cover, and thought ‘we are done.’
It’s not that I believe I will never read it again. I definitely will, if I live long enough for my ‘house arrest’ reading. But not in translation. I have a copy of a recent Penguin Classics edition. And I’m snob enough that I see no reason for reading anything but the English language version from now on.
Does that make getting rid of a childhood friend all right?