Kit Bakke, '81, '88
Miss Alcott's E-mail: Yours for Reforms of All Kinds
By Kit Bakke, '81, '88
David R. Godine Publisher, 2006
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In her twenties, radical activist Kit Bakke had ambitions of changing the world. Twenty years later she had a couple of advanced degrees and a mortgage. Determined to prove to herself that idealism was still possible in a world that seemed to demand so much compromise, Bakke struck up an imagined correspondence with the author of Little Women. The result was this "bio-memoir," which the Washington Post has called "excellent."
"I had been through some of the same adventures as Louisa, but by my late thirties I had leveled out at ordinary personhood, indistinguishable from many other middle-aged, middle-class post-World War II babies. My revolutionary days in the passionate and violent Weather Underground were like the ruins of Pompeii, the sharp edges slowly silted over by the ash of graduate school, marriage, kids in college, professional career, husband with ditto, vacations, gardening, dinners in nice restaurants. Years of layered sediment had buried those volcanic days of the 1960s and '70s, when I lived in an unsubtle world of black and white values and overheated schemes for building the perfect society. Remember Eldridge Cleaver's simple and menacing, 'You're either part of the problem or you're part of the solution'? Today, though, with the exception of financial donations and volunteer hours here and there, the personal and the private rule. Louisa, on the other hand, never buried her scrapes, never laid aside her ideals, but mined them her whole life to create wealth ("I turn my adventures into bread & butter"), fame, and a string of good works. Plus she did it all husbandless in a time when the odds for female success were infinitesimal. Her life, surely, would give me impetus and ideas for thinking about the rest of mine."