By Marah Gubar
During this groundbreaking contribution to Victorian and kid's literature stories, Marah Gubar proposes a primary reconception of the nineteenth-century angle towards early life. The ideology of innocence used to be a lot slower to unfold than we expect, she contends, and the folks whom we imagine have been so much dedicated to it--children's authors and participants of the notorious "cult of the child"--were truly deeply ambivalent approximately this Romantic proposal. instead of wholeheartedly selling a static excellent of early life purity, Golden Age kid's authors frequently represent children as collaborators who're stuck up within the constraints of the tradition they inhabit, and but now not necessarily victimized due to this touch with adults and their global. Such nuanced meditations at the vexed factor of the kid's organisation, Gubar indicates, will help modern students to generate extra versatile serious ways to the examine of youth and kid's literature.
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Additional info for Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature
In Vanity Fair (1848), to be sure, Thackeray seems repulsed by the precocious posturing of spoiled Georgy Sedley, who drinks, dresses, and circulates around London “just like a grown-up man” even though he is “scarcely eleven years of age” (654, 651). “Half tipsy” on wine and champagne, Georgy rudely cuts into the conversation at his grandfather’s dinner parties, swears like a trouper, and visits “all the principal theatres of the metropolis” so regularly that he knows “the names of all the actors from Drury Lane to Sadler’s Wells” (652–53).
Thus, as I will show, Ewing, Craik, and Nesbit represent young people as enmeshed in a literary, cultural, and social scene that inﬂuences them in both positive and negative ways. Even as many of their child protagonists glean intellectual inspiration from art and emotional support from beloved family members and friends, they also soak up negative qualities such as class prejudice, sexism, and blind nationalism, often from the very same sources. The reason Golden Age authors chose to link literacy and acculturation was that they recognized that their own genre had historically functioned as a tool for socialization and even indoctrination.
Leech’s habitual treatment of this theme should prompt us to reconsider the conﬁdent critical assertion that “the old view of the child as miniature adult . . had largely receded” by the mid-nineteenth century (Carpenter 9). On the contrary, Victorians were constantly confronted with young people behaving like adults, whether it was poor children who were already “old hands” at whatever form of labor they practiced or wealthy children accompanying their elders out to various social, scientiﬁc, artistic, or religious events, not to mention participating in a wide array of intergenerational domestic activities, including private theatricals, novel reading, the production of family magazines, “botanizing,” church work, and so on.