Literature for Children in the 19th Century

897 Words Dec 26th, 2010 4 Pages
Literature for children in the 19th century

Since the view of childhood changes in the nineteenth century, the potential of children’s literature becomes evident. With the reference to the sources of children’s literature, they can be traced back to alterations in translation and in the literature for adults, where a child or childhood are essential concepts; moreover folk literature is concerned to be a wide source for this literary genre. According to Peter Hunt

Children before the seventeenth century shared narrative, whether oral or through chapbooks, with adults. The first widely distributed texts for children were by puritan writers; in the mid-eighteenth century books began to be produced commercially, usually
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The portraying of the negative aspects of life results in social tensions and ambigous attitudes towards children’s fiction. Books are criticized for being inappropriate for children, and consequently attacked for their improper values. However, “together with the changing attitude to childhood, the legacy of children’s literature is established with the works of the following writers: Lewis Carroll and Edith Nesbit, Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain” (Hunt, 2001:13).

Literature for boys and girls in the 19th century

Literature aimed at young readers can be divided into two categories, namely, novels classified as ‘books for boys’ and ‘books for girls’. These novels can be contrasted and there are visible differences between them. For instance, literature for boys is characterized by a swift action, amazing adventures, making difference between good and evil. The novels communicate the individuals to choose good. However, the novels‘for girls’ in many respects may be the opposite of the books ‘for boys’. The action usually takes place on the set of relationships. There are many descriptions of characters and everyday situations, and ethical choices are often ambiguous. Books for boys are generally school stories, adventure tales, or imperial fantasy, often about empire or school life, while stories of home and family life are aimed at girls. Lewis C. Roberts explains that “the school story and the adventure tale... , primarily associated with
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