Annotations - Louisa May Alcott, "Transcendental Wild Oats" (1873)


The title of the sketch underlines the role of New England Transcendentalism in providing the intellectual and cultural contexts of the Fruitlands experiment. It is important to recall that the ethical vegan practices of the community were not motivated by a commitment to animal rights. Quite to the contrary, animals were seen to occupy a lower level of existence and to lack enlightenment, thus representing a danger to the project of human spiritual transcendence that Alcott and Lane pursued at Fruitlands. In his journal (24 January 1860) Alcott writes: “Man's victory over nature and himself is to overcome the brute beast in him.” (325) See Russell Goodman, "Transcendentalism," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).