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children's literature, childhood and culture (and anything else that strikes my fancy).

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carbon-based life form: thinking, reading and gardening. New College alum; current grad student writing a dissertation. I specialize in children's literature, media, and culture, and queer/gender studies, with a strong interest in 19th century British literature and culture. I like history, a lot.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

man/child

I'm currently interested in adults who act like children (in literature, mainly). For instance: Mr Dick of David Copperfield - an adult man who is consistenty characterized as childlike. Mr Dick clearly has some kind of diagnosable condition (autism, maybe? i don't know enough to diagnose a fictional character), so his behavior is not a choice nor an act, a performance. but the special position given to him in the text intrigues me.

....because i am also interested in PeeWee Herman as a character. the man/child thing is something i find fascinating, especially the public's response to it. i haven't done thorough research - really just cursory searches - but haven't found any good criticism about old PeeWee.

I'm currently reading, with my nice boyfriend (we've made our own bookclub!) Paul Auster's novel City of Glass, which has an adult who was a feral child (I think - I've only read about 75 pages and the nature of the book makes everything uncertain). he hasn't quite "recovered" -he is still a childish man, having been discovered at something like age 11 and then "brought up" from a state of virtual developmental infancy.

there's something to all this adult/child stuff, but i haven't quite sorted it out yet. it's quite clear to me why all the cases i've found are of Man/children (women are already historically aligned with children and infantilized - woman/child is practically an oxymoron from a critical perspective - although it's used in reverse, to describe an overly sophisticated - sexually - female child or teenager). but the man/child "character" needs more thinking.....

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