Literature for Children

Literature for Children
The book “Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature” is one of the most renowned works written by Humphrey Carpenter, who attempted to evaluate critically the children’s literature of Victorian and Edwardian England. As the matter of fact, the book reveals the author’s view on the development of children’s literature and critical analysis of the children’s literature written by different authors. At the same time, the book is a blend of the critical analysis of the children’s literature and the author’s view on the children’s literature in England and partially in the US, which give a wide panorama of the basic trends in the children’s literature of that time.

Humphrey Carpenter focuses his attention on the study of the children’s literature written by English authors mainly. The only American book Humphrey Carpenter discusses and analyzes in his critical work is “Little Women”. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the author develops quite a superficial and a bit naughty view on American children’s literature, which Humphrey Carpenter positions rather as inferior to English literature than equal. Such a position of the author probably derives from the different level of development of English and American literature on the turn of the century. Nevertheless, the author is very critical and skeptical about American literature. Hence, he discusses only one American book in his critical analysis of the children’s literature.

On the other hand, “Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature” is far from being an objective critical work. In fact, the author is quite selective in his preferences and critical analysis. What is meant here is the fact that Humphrey Carpenter ignored not only American authors but he also ignored female authors. As the matter of fact, he mentions and analyzes children’s books written by female authors seldom and the author develops quite a skeptical view treating children’s books written by female authors as girl’s fiction. Therefore, Humphrey Carpenter stands on the ground that children’s books written by female authors are unworthy of his attention and they should not be viewed as serious literary works.

In this respect, the author underestimates apparently the role of female children’s literature because the Victorian and Edwardian epoch in the development of the children’s literature was characterized by the emergence of a large number of female children’s books which proved to be quite successful and gained the public approval. Nevertheless, the author still stands on the ground that female children’s literature is inferior to male one. In such a way, the author mirrors the traditional attitude to female literature at large and female children’s literature in particular in England on the turn of the century.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the book “Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature” by Humphrey Carpenter is a critical but quite subjective analysis of the children’s literature in England and America.

References:

Carpenter, H. (2006). Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. New York: Routledge.

Literature for Children 8.3 of 10 on the basis of 4195 Review.