Language and Control in Children's Literature

By Murray Knowles; Kirsten Malmkjær | Go to book overview

3

Traditional juvenile fiction

INTRODUCTION

In chapter 1 we saw how modern children’s fiction has its roots in the nineteenth century and how the first major tradition to produce entertaining narratives for young readers was that which is characterised by the adventure story and the school story. In many respects the evolution of the former is a continuation of the tradition that had already been well established by Sir Walter Scott. From the mid nineteenth century adventure stories were being written specifically for juveniles as well as adults. The narratives of the traditional adventure story writers might well be regarded as the nineteenth-century boys’ equivalent of what Nash (1990:56) calls the ‘action-book’. Nash cites, amongst others, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum and Wilbur Smith. All of these writers were named in Knowles’s 1989-90 survey and they are the natural successors of John Buchan, Sapper and Dornford Yates and thus of Henty and W.E. Johns. The adventure story, with additional violence and now sex, is alive and well for the adult (and adolescent) reader.

We do not, on linguistic grounds, as we pointed out in chapter 1, differentiate between the adventure and school narratives in terms of genre. There are, of course, differences of setting but we prefer to consider them as complementary wings. Our genre of traditional juvenile fiction, then, is made up of two sub-genres which are similar in linguistic form. The school and adventure stories generate a class of works which can be considered in terms of a common authorship as regards point of view and audience. Tom Brown’s Schooldays may be set in Rugby School and The Coral Island in the South Seas but the authors will not be dissimilar in how they represent God and country, for example, and they will be read by the same boys (and girls). The genre, therefore, enscribes a set of institutions; gender, friendship,

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Language and Control in Children's Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Children’s Literature in England 1
  • 2 - Literature as a Carrier of Ideology: Children’s Literature and Control 41
  • 3 - Traditional Juvenile Fiction 81
  • 4 - Today’s Young Reader 114
  • 5 - The Fairytale 156
  • 6 - Fantasy Fiction 224
  • 7 - Last Thoughts 262
  • References 267
  • Index 276
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