Read Il piccolo lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett Free Online
Book Title: Il piccolo lord Fauntleroy|
The author of the book: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Date of issue: November 30th 2010
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Format files: PDF
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The fact that Frances Hodgson Burnett's "Little Lord Fauntleroy" was such a sensation in the 1880s says as much about the contrast between the late Victorian Era and today as any anthropological study could.
The story centers around Cedric Errol, a kind, optimistic young boy who lives with his mother in modest circumstances in New York City, and is friends with just about everyone he meets. One day, he learns that he is actually Lord Fauntleroy, the heir apparent to become Earl of Dorincourt, and he then moves to England to live with his hardened, misanthropic grandfather, who has already made up his mind to dislike the child before he even meets him. Moreover, he hates the boy's mother, whom he blames for alienating his now-deceased son's affection, and whom he refuses ever to meet when she comes to England with her son. Cedric's mother, however, is as good and kind as her son, and wishes him to think the best of his grandfather, knowing that he could not comprehend malice in anyone, so she conceals his grandfather's true feelings from him.
Cedric, now Lord Fauntleroy, begins to make changes at Dorincourt and for the impoverished tenants who live in the slums of the surrounding village owned by the Earl that improve everyone's lives and earn Fauntleroy great admiration from everyone he meets; however, he attributes every positive change to his grandfather's benevolence, and believes that everyone's admiration is a reflection of how generous an Earl his grandfather is, not knowing that the Earl is, in fact, universally detested by his people as a tyrant.
Over time, Cedric's optimism, kindness, and refusal to believe in the slightest aspersion on his grandfather's character actually begins to change his grandfather, the Earl, into the man whom his grandson believes him to be. In Burnett's typical fashion, there is a plot twist which complicates matters, before reaffirming that, indeed, goodness and charity will always overcome deceit, greed, and evil, and that, moreover, being around positivity can actually change one's entire nature from wicked to good.
Although often overlooked by contemporary scholars in favor of Burnett's admittedly more complex "The Secret Garden," "Little Lord Fauntleroy" is nevertheless still worthy of reading and study. In fact, the Earl's transformation in "Little Lord Fauntleroy" is in some ways similar to Mary Lennox's or Colin Craven's transformation in "The Secret Garden," only in that book it was the positive energy embodied in the secret garden, and in the character of Dickon, which served as the impetus for Mary's and Colin's personality transformations, and which were able to unlock the goodness and purity of spirit which had always been latent within them.
"Little Lord Fauntleroy" is very similar to another later best-selling book, Eleanor H. Porter's "Pollyanna," and its themes and message are in many ways quite similar, so much so that Cedric Errol and Pollyanna Whittier can be seen as essentially the male and female counterpoints of each other. That book, too, while a sensation in its day, is more often than not the source of derision rather than study today, with the term "Pollyanna" becoming synonymous with delusional, if not insufferable, positivity and belief in goodness in the face of despair and misfortune. Perhaps that is a more realistic, if cynical, view of both "Pollyanna" and "Little Lord Fauntleroy," but I happen to have enjoyed both of them thoroughly. And if you've read and enjoyed one, you're likely to enjoy the other.
"Little Lord Fauntleroy" may be a relic of a genteel era so far removed from our modern culture that it may be laughable to some, but for others, myself included, it's a pleasant reminder that there exists in the world, without any trace of irony, some texts which reaffirm a belief in the fundamental decency of people and the transformative power of goodness, charity, and optimism.
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Read information about the authorFrances Eliza Hodgson was the daughter of ironmonger Edwin Hodgson, who died three years after her birth, and his wife Eliza Boond. She was educated at The Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentleman until the age of fifteen, at which point the family ironmongery, then being run by her mother, failed, and the family emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee. Here Hodgson began to write, in order to supplement the family income, assuming full responsibility for the family upon the death of her mother, in 1870. In 1872 she married Dr. Swan Burnett, with whom she had two sons, Lionel and Vivian. The marriage was dissolved in 1898. In 1900 Burnett married actor Stephen Townsend until 1902 when they got divorced. Following her great success as a novelist, playwright, and children's author, Burnett maintained homes in both England and America, traveling back and forth quite frequently. She died in her Long Island, New York home, in 1924.
Primarily remembered today for her trio of classic children's novels - Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911) - Burnett was also a popular adult novelist, in her own day, publishing romantic stories such as The Making of a Marchioness (1901) for older readers.
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