Even at this age there can come a stage when the literary experience has almost an equivalent reality to the actual. The point which interests me here is how one should assess the comparative value of The Little Family and Peter Rabbit. I suspect that a child has a need both for the book which 'merely' confirms, like The Little Family, and for the book like Peter Rabbit which extends beyond the immediately known. In one of her essays Rebecca West says, 'This use of art to prove what man already knows is a shameful betrayal of the mission of art to tell more than he knows.' This may apply to adult literature but it does not apply to children's literature at the beginning. In fact one could argue that they have a need for literature which tells them what they already know. Indeed I am not convinced that even an adult will accept the validity of a literature which does not confirm his own experience if he has not previously appreciated some writing to which he said, 'This is I.'
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Quote: Books Before Five
From Books Before Five by Dorothy White: