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Stories For Children, Histories of Childhood. Volume II

Rosie Findlay
Sébastien Salbayre


Texte intégral


1Childhood and Sacrifice in the Contemporary Maori Novel
Several of the most well-known novels by Maori authors of the past decades feature a very special child that stands at the centre of the story as the saviour of its people, such as Simon in The Bone People, Toko in Potiki, Grace in Once Were Warriors, and Kahu in The Whale Rider. Representing Nature, Magic, and Origin, this child appears to be of Romantic descent, and just as during Romanticism it is used for the political purpose of criticizing the project of Modernity and its focus upon progress, materialism, and rationality.
The symbolic importance of these children is emphasized in the novels through their dramatic deaths, or near-deaths, which are sacrificial in that they are the direct cause of their communities to change towards a more traditional way of life.
The recent development of the discipline of Childhood Studies allows us to look at the Child as socially constructed in the same way as Woman or the Native, as a set of ideas that control the way that children are perceived and described in different discourses. Looking at these novels from the perspective of Childhood Studies I wish to discuss the reasons why the child of Romanticism has become such an important, though eminently sacrificeable, character of the postcolonial New Zealand novel.


2Children’s Literature in Nineteenth Century India: Some Reflection and Thoughts.
In 1962 the National Library of India, known as the Imperial Library under the British Raj, compiled a bibliography of children’s literature in Bengali that listed 5060 books and 133 periodicals published between 1818-1962. With Calcutta as the imperial capital of the British until 1911, this Bibliography on Bengali literature represents the works and engagements of the burgeoning Indian middle class who envisioned through their writings a reformed family, an ideal woman, and a "perfect" child. My paper focuses on the 19th-century periodical literature for children that became an equally important vehicle for shaping the minds of children and the ideas and cultures of childhood in colonial India. The confluence of different literary styles, genres, and writers in the periodicals prove particularly instructive in locating the authors' concern with class, gender, national identity, modernity, and progress. Engaging with the contents of the periodicals, my paper asks to what extent the articulation of different themes in the diverse genres of children’s literature was tied to the projects of colonial and postcolonial modernity. Was Bengali children’s literature an epistemological space based on colonial difference created by the colonized subject or was it a derivative discourse and if so, to what extent?


3Crossover Versions of “Little Red Riding Hood”
“Little Red Riding Hood” is perhaps the archetypal children’s story. At the same time, it is a story that captures the imagination of authors and illustrators for both adults and children, as well as readers of all ages. From its origins in the oral tradition, the tale has been a crossover work and authors have been “crosswriting” it for an audience of adults and children since its literary début in France in the seventeenth century. This paper analyses a selection of multi-layered retellings of “Little Red Riding Hood” that were written and published for, or are read by, a dual audience of children and adults.


4De l’épistolaire dans le livre pour enfants
La forme épistolaire comme contrainte créatrice en littérature pour la jeunesse forme le sujet de cet article. On s’y interroge plus largement sur l’épistolarité, c’est-à-dire sur ce qui se joue dans l’échange de correspondance, et sur la manière de le transmettre par les outils de la littérature que sont l’écriture poétique et l’image.


5Childist Criticism and the Silenced Voice of the Child: A Widening Critical and Institutional Re-Consideration of Children’s Literature
In my essay, I approach children’s literature from a genealogical perspective. Concentrating on the way one tends to talk about children’s books – be in academic or more general terms – I argue that the genitive case present in the phrase ‘Children’s Literature’ is misguiding. Thus, I argue for some possible institutional changes. The main critical apparatus developed through the essay is that of childist criticism, a theoretical apparatus introduced by Peter Hunt in the 1980s. Whereas Peter Hunt has only concentrated on the reading of books from a childist angle, I decide to deal with issues of production and, thus, engage with texts often marginalised, those written by children themselves.


6« De l’enfant mort à l’éternel enfant: l’histoire sans fin de J. M Barrie »
Le personnage de Barrie, Peter Pan, d’emblée intimement lié à la mort, sans cesse claironne qu’il veut rester éternellement petit garçon et s’amuser. Son histoire sans fin, reprise de génération en génération par une série de petites filles, demeure à jamais vivante.
Néanmoins, dans la nursery de Londres comme à Neverland, l’île merveilleuse, partout la mort rôde et frappe, violente, horrible, spectaculaire, ou à peine évoquée, effaçant en même temps le souvenir des vivants. Les enfants Darling et les garçons perdus reviennent à Londres où a commencé leur existence, où ils vieilliront puis s’éteindront comme avant eux Mrs Darling, Nana et Clochette. Peter, éternel enfant, continue, lui, à errer entre deux mondes en jouant avec ostentation à donner la mort, à l’esquiver ou à l’attendre, comme si tuer était le plus délicieux des plaisirs et mourir la plus exaltante des aventures.


7“Saving the World before Bedtime”: The Puer Aeternus as a New Paradigm for Selfhood
In this article, I argue that the puer aeternus (eternal child), which was once considered an abnormal pathology, is now a privileged and effective model for fashioning a self in contemporary culture. I present the social and cultural conditions for this change, and examine contemporary children’s films that explore our cultural ambivalence to this prevalent motif.


8Desperately Seeking the Child in Children’s Books
This paper aims to propose a theoretical approach to the field of children’s books, in an attempt to grasp the specificity of this literature and get close to a definition, starting from the adult/child relationship in children’s books.
My argument is that because the child in children’s books is a fragmented agency, children’s literature depends largely on an artificial separation of the child from the adult, a separation based on the fantasizing or mythologizing of childhood that in turn generates an ambiguity of the adult’s gaze upon the child. This nostalgic, desiring gaze, which is typical of the Victorian era and of the present time, can be at once violent and fruitfully creative. By blurring all frontiers, especially those between different age groups, the yearning of today’s adult for the child may even challenge the very existence of children’s literature.


9Representing War Trauma in Children’s Fiction: A Child in Prison Camp and Naomi’s Road
Shizuye Takashima (1928-2005) and Joy Kogawa (b. 1935) were aged 13 and 7 respectively in 1942 when they were abruptly uprooted from their native Vancouver and confined in “relocation camps” in the interior of British Columbia, where they endured physical, emotional and economic hardships. Both girls were among the 21,700 Japanese Canadians who were forcibly removed from their Pacific Coast homes during the Second World War. Several decades after their ordeal, Takashima and Kogawa published A Child in Prison Camp (1971) and Naomi’s Road (1986) to make children acquainted with this painful episode of Canadian history. Although the issues addressed throughout these two highly poetic pieces of autobiographical fiction are complex—for they explore a war-related individual and collective trauma with historical precision—the language used in them is simple and direct. Both first-person narrators are young girls perceptively observing the world around them. In a time of great sorrow, they find comfort and delight in the spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountains, evade reality through imaginary voyages to their former Vancouver homes or to exotic countries, and discover that musical enjoyment grants them the peace of mind they desperately need in a world shattered by violence.


10Children Writing Childhood: Romantic Revolutions in the Imaginary Kingdoms of Thomas Malkin, Thomas De Quincey, and the Brontës
This paper examines the representation of children and childhood in the imaginary kingdoms, or paracosms, created by children during the British Romantic period, roughly 1780 – 1840. It compares the way in which young writers represented childhood and children with the construct of the child in Romantic poetry or the didactic school of writing which produced stories for children. Authors whose work is considered include Thomas Malkin, Thomas and William De Quincey, and the imaginary kingdoms of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë.


11“Helpless and a cripple”: the disabled child in children’s literature and child rescue discourses.
This article will explore some of the ways disabled children were represented in children’s literature and child rescue literature in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The disabled character was often used quite didactically, teaching lessons about patience and being used to foster compassion and charity. Intersecting with these constructions were views about an ideal childhood, and frequently, strongly Evangelical ideas of children as redeemers.


12Pip and Hawkins: the spontaneous generation of two mistakes of fiction.
Dans The Mill on the Floss (1860) le narrateur omniscient, très adulte, pose un diagnostic sur l’indomptable petite Maggie Tulliver: «a small mistake of nature», créature hybride entre l’animal et l’adulte, elle incame cet intérêt relativement récent de la littérature victorienne pour ces enfants jusque là non répertoriés par la fiction. Objet relativement inédit, Maggie fait pourtant dans le texte une irruption contrôlée, la ligne de fuite reste thématique, puisque Maggie n’accède pas à la voix narrative.
Il en va autrement dans Great Expectations (1860) et dans Treasure Island (1883) où les enfants, deux orphelins de père, antiœdipe littéraires, partent à l’abordage du récit réaliste. Stevenson fait de Jim le narrateur de droit de Treasure Island, tandis que Dickens insinue subrepticement la voix pirate de Pip dans ce texte ventriloque, en mode mineur, en concurrence active avec sa voix d’adulte, narratrice en titre. Je souhaiterais montrer que «ce que les enfants disent» (Deleuze, Critique et Clinique) dans ces deux romans ouvre une brèche dans la forme réaliste, et que Dickens et Stevenson décèlent dans la voix de l’enfant le modèle d’une forme littéraire à venir, une forme caractérisée notamment par l’indéfini, le parcours, et le bégaiement.


13No back agency on the back seat: the Watsons go to Birmingham-1963.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 is a highly popular 1995 novel involving a lower middle class black family of five. The father, Daniel, is a factory worker in the automobile industry. Wilona, the mother, is a homemaker who moved up from Birmingham as a young bride. Of the three siblings, Byron is about 14, Joetta, the last born, is about 7 and Kenneth, the narrator is about 10.
Byron is a troublesome child and the parents decide to drive down to Birmingham to have his disciplinarian grandmother teach him the realities of black life in the United States.
The novel is full of humor, especially as Daniel is a nononsense black man while Wilona romanticizes the “down home” of her youth.
The overnight drive from Michigan (a challenge Daniel imposes upon himself) is smooth and the family reunion after 10 years is pleasant —although Wilona fails to approve of her widowed mother’s decision to live with a companion.
Nice Kenneth is the one who gets out of line and bathes in a dangerous place, only to be rescued by Byron at the last minute. The trauma of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church concludes the novel, and the family drive home to protect Joetta from the horror of it all.
The essay takes issue with the novel for its silence about the events of the spring of 1963. Apart from the heinous bombing, the book’s overall vision of the racist South is bland. Here is a story written for children which fails to instruct. The “children’s crusade” was a very special movement of the civil rights campaign involving thousands of young protesters who marched, braved police dogs, billy clubs, water cannons, and went to jail because they believed in promises of fairness and equality. Black agency deserves better than the novel’s representation of the past. Racial fairness remains a promise even today, but whatever progress has been made did not come easily.


14“Wrecked at the critical point where the stream and river meet”?: Lewis Carroll and the deconstruction of Childhood.
This paper will investigate the “form” and “reform” of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – to change within the form of the text and through the form of Alice the character. Although Carroll may have fetishized childhood and commodified the child in print, the child was not passive in this process. In the Alice books Carroll takes us beyond conventional practice, activating the child from centuries of dormancy. Carroll rather unconventionally rendered the child active, as an agent of reform rather than passive amidst the process of change. For the first time since childhood was constructed in the eighteenth-century, Carroll fostered the child’s ability not to merely accept didacticism but to question social morality. He creates characters and texts which are active agents in change who reflect and examine themselves and others. Alice, therefore, provides a refreshing alternative to didactic texts such as Sherwood’s The Fair child Family (1818), Edgeworth’s Moral Tales for Young People (1805), Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1862) and MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1872). As a result, I believe that Carroll is truer to the spirit of educational reformers such as Rousseau and Locke, than Sherwood, Edgeworth and others who repressed rather than freed children to think beyond the parameters of convention and occupy narrative spaces to imagine and reflect.
Carroll destabilises and deconstructs childhood, rather than adhering to convention by consolidating, stabilising and sentimentalising it. At the time Carroll was writing, changes to the conceptualisation of childhood were occurring in debates about the age of consent, innocence and censorship and Carroll was engaged in these.
The Alice books are not religious but can be regarded as theodical since they explore conflicts such as fear of time, death and meaninglessness. Indeed I believe the Alice books express Dodgson’s crisis of faith in his questioning of didacticism and divine omnipotence, the latter through staging a radical disappearance of the narrator. The absence of an explicit moralising agent does not mean, however, that the Alice books lack a moral framework. Carroll transcends the category of didactic narrator and rather blasphemously assumes the role of omnipotent narrator. In this respect, his texts can be regarded retrospectively as postmodern. Indeed, it could be said that Humpty Dumpty is fragmented even before his fall. Carroll’s preoccupation with the organisation of time and space is evident in his work, which has been influenced by social changes from local to Greenwich Mean Time or Standard Time and in his creation of the “delayed timing” device used in his photography. Knoepflmacher believes that Alice is the embodiment of many of Carroll’s child friends, “the Alices and Gertrudes and Ethels [which were] so important to his psychological well-being” (Knoepflmacher, 1998, pp 214-215). This photographic approach is transferred to Wonderland where not one, but several Alices are depicted, exposed as snapshots of her development over time. In “collecting” children, Carroll extended the Victorian pastime and obsession of preserving birds’ eggs, catching and preserving butterflies and organising them by category, flower-pressing, philately and compilations of scrapbooks.
It is interesting that the term “adolescence” was only introduced at the end of the nineteenth-century and I believe Carroll’s Alice books were pioneering in signifying the transition and preparing the way for this change in psychological interest. His text is liminal and in flux, allowing him to explore issues relating to development and challenging the grounds on which progression is necessarily linear. The form of the text itself and its characterisation symbolise process – Alice herself is described as a “teetotum” (spinning top) – and transition, not surprising since the tale was conceived in motion, told on a boat and written on a train. It is reflexive with no clear beginning or end and as such it comments on the reflexivity of child and adult states. Alice represents the child reader undergoing the process of development. I argue that the death of childhood as represented in Alice is figurative, viewed as a mode of development. The form of this text represents both the process of construction and deconstruction and offers scope for reconstruction, reform and development.


15The Art of Imagining Childhood in the Eighteenth Century
Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after growing up.” Such a connection made between childhood and creativity is so common place that we often forget it is a cultural construction. Only in a rare moment while thinking about the ‘natural’ creativity of the child do we stop to consider the point in history when this notion first developed and the manner by which it became widely accepted. Anyone who has read Philippe Ariès Centuries of Childhood recognizes the argument that the child was "discovered", or more correctly "rediscovered", during the Enlightenment, and that the progressive pedagogical philosophies of Locke and Rousseau are representative of this new concern for children and their world. What has yet to be fully considered is the impact that the visual arts had on this discernment of creative impulses in the state of childhood, earlier than might be expected, in the image of the eighteenth-century child. This paper considers Rococo representations of children playing and how these images contributed to the Enlightenment "discovery" of the child.


16Deviation from or Adherence to Tradition: The Image of the Girl Child in The Dark Holds No Terror by Shashi Deshpande
In many of her works the novelist, Shashi Deshpande, examines the status of women in Indian society and the conflict they experience as their search for identity directs them away from the traditional norms instilled in them as children. Therefore, the two main threads of the paper will be sociological and literary.
The images of children in Shashi Deshpande’s novels take two forms. The first centres mainly on the protagonists’childhood, which is described in flashbacks seen from the point of view of the adult as she calls to mind her younger self. Secondly, there are also images of young children, girls and boys, in the present time of the novel.
The phrase ‘girl child’ is a deliberate choice to highlight the Indian perspective in which the movements and thought patterns of children, especially girls, are controlled according to their gender so as to mould the personality of the adult. No attempt will be made to define boundaries between childhood and girlhood in the psychological or occidental sense. The process of socialisation begins at an age when the child is most malleable. The prevalent social mores are instilled in her, according to Parikh and Garg, in the first five or six years of childhood, (when) the female child is exposed to the cultural lore, which define her core identity.
This process continues throughout a woman’s life as her role is instilled into her and as she in her turn continues the traditions instilling them in her ‘girl’ children. The male child, as the one who will propagate the family lineage, has not the same restrictions imposed on him as his sister. To him will be entrusted the task of lighting his parent’s funeral pyre and performing the religious rites forbidden to the daughter. As he does not menstruate, he is not considered as one who pollutes. Furthermore, unlike his sister, the male child is not subjected to movement restrictions nor is he expected to perform household tasks. The acculturation of the girl through prescriptive codes of conduct will be discussed in the section on the girlhood of the protagonist of Shashi Deshpande’s novel The Dark Holds No Terror.


17La civilité puérile et honnête de Maurice Boutet de Monvel; Contrariétés bourgeoises et turbulence enfantine
In 1887, the publisher Eugène Plon brings out in Paris La Civilité puérile et honnête, expliquée par l’oncle Eugène (that means himself), a picture-book illustrated by the famous French artist Maurice Boutet de Monvel. The title links this picture-book to a long French tradition of books of Courtesy, inherited from the De Civilitate morum puerilium (1530) by Erasmus, but quite old-fashioned by the end of the century. This paper examines how Boutet de Monvel, in spite of a co-called classical "handbook of manners" introduces a constant ironic comment of "good manners" taught to children of the upper middleclasses, and how the artist stands up for children againts grown-ups’ injonctions. Boutet de Monvel uses with a tremendous skill the frame of the book – left and right pages facing each other – to lay out his couples of "do" and "don’t". It is, of course, much funnier to be a naughty child than a good bunny. Boutet de Monvel’s choices do not contradict Oncle Eugène’s advice, for instance being not unworthy of Lewis Carroll’s. In its diversion of the tradition, this Civilité puérile et honnête may be considered as a testimony of a new image of the child, an image more respectful of his rights to live the time of his childhood... as a child.


18Their past, our future: the relevance of WW2 experiences for contemporary children.
Sixty years after the end of the conflict, WW2 is still perceived as a defining moment for the identity of Britain and a period whose experiences must be transmitted to the new generations. The paper examines four recent novels for the young, two British ones as well as an American and an Australian import. Either by having their protagonists travel back in time to WW2 or by resorting to an embedded narrative, they deliberately stage the encounter of modern day children with this particular period. While the representation they give of childhood, then and now, is essentially characterized by helplessness and loneliness, despite some evidence of a potential for resilience, the books also tend to illustrate various degrees of belief in the ability of fiction to convey historical and ethical lessons for their young intended readers.


19The language of decadent childhood in Oscar Wilde’s tales
I should like to take a close look at the way the realm of childhood as a referential context of situation is depicted and the way the identity of Wildean children is constructed and disclosed in tales in which children are involved and play a major role—“The Happy Prince”, “The Selfish Giant”, “The Young King” and “The Star-Child”. In order to analyse the language of these tales, and what Zipes refers to as their “subtlety and art”, I shall concentrate upon the articulation of expression and representation in the formulation of what can be considered an archetypal stage in any folk or literary tale—the child’s transformation, or metamorphosis.


20Eternal Life and Everlasting Youth: English translations of Romanian fairy tales
The present study investigates two English translations of the fairy tale “Tinereţe fără bătrăneţe şi viaţă fără de moarte” (“Youth Everlasting and Life without End” and “Eternal Life and Everlasting Youth”) collected from the Romanian folklore by the nineteenth century folk tale collector Petre Ispirescu, the Romanian counterpart of the Grimm brothers. This story is, in many ways, an unusual one, as it explores in a rather explicit way the purpose of life, and flouts a number of expectations about the genre of fairy tales.
Combined evidence from context and textual analysis enables us to conclude that the translators were influenced in very different ways by their assumptions about the purpose of their task, and the two translations are a good example of the impact of audience design on translation. The study also points to the role of translation in the migration of books from one type of audience to another.


21‘Nettles and thistles...turned into roses for life’ Constructions of childhood in the international child rescue literature 1850-1915
This paper analyses the discursive strategies employed in child rescue literature circulating in Britain and Australia in the period 1850 to 1915. It demonstrates how the authors intertwined the salvation of the individual and the nation, eliding local and foreign sites of mission, and drawing on metaphors of gardens, and nature to reconstitute the everyday phenomenon of the street child as an object of pity, a victim of vice and neglect, simultaneously a threat to and the embodiment of the future of nation, race and Empire. These romantic imaginings, riven with assumptions of racial and national superiority, underwrote twentieth-century child welfare policy and practice across the Empire.


22‘Emptiness and expectation’: difference, repetition and memory in time-travel stories for children
The paper discusses the time-travel motif in English children’s literature (Lucy Boston, Philippa Pearce, Penelope Lively) as viewed through Deleuze’s theory of difference and repetition. Reflections on time and space in particular stories draw on the tradition of adventure novel as well as on Bakhtin’s theory of chronotopes.

© Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2007

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