Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Suffer the Children

Once upon a time, there was a new Norton Anthology of Literature.
It was of the same quality as your average Norton Anthology.
Many trees died in vain.
And so, Dorothea Israel Wolfson was sad.

The book was filled with gobbledygook nonsense speak that could rival Edward Lear.
For example: "Discourses such as reader-response theory, poststructuralism, semiotics, feminist theory, and postcolonial theory have proven to be valuable in analyzing children's books."

Do you know what that is children?

It's when an adult tells us how valuable their work has been because they cannot show us.

And so, Dorothea stomped her tiny feet and huffed and puffed, all to no avail, until she got to this sublime final paragraph:

"In a strange way, completely unappreciated by the anthology's editors, we have returned to the pre-Lockean age of children's literature. Locke wished to scrub stories clean of horrific images and premonitions of death—not because he was a naïf or a utopian, but because he believed it possible to build a more rational, humane world. The Norton editors break with him on this central issue. They do not believe in the possibility of a more rational world, or even, it would seem, in childhood itself. And so they have more in common with the New England Primer than they dare to admit. They, too, are obsessed with death and the apocalypse, only they don't believe in redemption."

And they all lived uncomfortably ever after.

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