Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Good Stuff

I've been reading this great little book I stumbled across at the library.  It's so full of gems I could easily quote the whole book to you.  Beyond Words: Mystical Fancy in Children's Literatureby James E. Higgins clearly takes children's literature seriously, especially books of "mystical fancy", books that take their reader beyond the physical world around him or her "in order to lay bare those realities which are imperceptible to the physical senses."  He goes on to write about George MacDonald, W. H. Hudson, Antoine de Saint-Expery, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien.  It's a little book, but there's so much good stuff in it.  Here's a sample:
If the works of men like Clemens and Stevenson say anything at all to modern writers, it is that the author must write about and for the children he knows, for it is these children alone that he is able to love and respect; it is these children alone who are alive and unique, who are flesh and blood, and therefore who are able to come alive again in print.  W. H. Hudson wrote for the little boy he knew best--himself as a child.  But, since he was no ordinary boy, his book perhaps will not appeal to ordinary boys, nor should this be expected of it.  A book, especially a book for children, should be judged not by the number of readers attracted to it, but by the quality of experience enjoyed by those readers who are attracted to it, however small the number may be.
"A book, especially a book for children, should be judged not by the number of readers attracted to it, but by the quality of experience enjoyed by those readers who are attracted to it, however small the number may be."  Wow.  No doubt he's an idealist, but I agree completely.

3 comments:

  1. That sounds wonderful! Did you read my review of "I, Juan de Pareja" on my blog? This is very much how I feel about children's books. They need to be 'as worth reading at age 50 as they are at age 10'. (CS Lewis)

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  2. I did! (I'm still working on commenting on other people's blogs--I like to think about things for a while, and by the time I'm ready to say something the rest of the world has moved on). I agree with you and Lewis. And Higgins, in the book mentioned above, touches on the fact that it doesn't matter so much if a book was originally written for a child or an adult, but that "it would be a mistake to suppose that complexity is superior to simplicity in the art of narration. It would be equally wrong to suppose that stories primarily addressed to adults need to be superior in quality to those addressed to children."

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  3. LOL! I know what you mean--I do that sometimes too! I read a blog, then go back to comment and they have another post or two up! giggle

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