Sunday, 8 December 2013

ABC blog: P

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P is for post-. As in postmodern, which is the most abused word in literary criticism. When my students use it, I ask them whether they mean complex and interesting, and if yes, just say so. There are some distinct features of postmodernism which I have explored, and it can be a good practical tool, but if it includes almost anything, there is no point. Postcolonial, posthuman and other posts must also be defined before you can make them useful.

P is also for pre-, as in prelapsarian.

P is for pro-, as in prolepsis.

P is for para-, as in paratext.

P is for proto-, as in proto-children's literature, which is what children read before there was any children's literature.

P is also for pastoral, which is one of the most common topoi of conventional children's literature.

P is for Peter Pan complex, the reluctance to grow up, which is one of children's literature's foremost paradoxes: adult writers want the child to stay young forever, but know it's impossible. Thus, the impossibility of children's literature, as Jacqueline Rose would have it. Fortunately, children's writers don't read Rose so, like the bumblebee, they don't know it's impossible. Yet the posthuman Peter Pan in his prelapsarian pastoral is for many the epitome of children's literature. 

P is also for my favourite children's book. 


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