To be specified published in:Landscapes of Realism: Rethinking literary realism in comparative perspectives. Volume II: Pathways through realism
Edited by Svend Erik Larsen, Steen Bille Jørgensen and Margaret R. Higonnet
[Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages XXXIII] 2022
► pp. 629–648
Forms of realism in children’s literature
Realism in children’s literature has been confused with didacticism, suppressed by censorship, and understudied in the nineteenth century, when crossover reading blurred the line between children and adults. Yet the roots of realism lie in earlier encyclopedic and even alphabetic forms, which modeled and foreshadowed nineteenth-century experiments in historical fiction, science fiction, and three-dimensional ‘movable’ forms that in turn supported enthusiasm for ‘illusions in motion’ and early film. Underestimating the capacity of a child-audience to appreciate sophisticated forms of representation and metanarrative, critics have focused on descriptive conceptions of mimesis in texts for the young, at the expense of self-conscious practices of verisimilitude and the comic – another dimension of realism central to the child-reader’s play with texts that has been underestimated by theorists of realism. Examples that range from nursery play to serious adolescent fiction (e.g. adventure, historical narratives, domestic fiction) expand our understanding both of children’s readings and of the potential range of realism.
Keywords: censorship, audiences, education, Johann Comenius, G. Bruno, Lothar Meggendorfer, Catharine Sedgwick, Mildred Taylor, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, realism
- 1.Problems of definition
- 2.Encyclopedic or alphabetic realism
- 3.Playful realism and illusions through motion
- 4.Periodical: Mixed audiences and disciplines
- 5.Historical fiction
- 6.Problem fiction
Published online: 16 March 2022
Comenius, Johann Amos
Culler, Jonathan D.
Hetzel, Pierre Jules [pseud. P. J. Stahl
Hetzel, Pierre Jules
Higonnet, Margaret R.