Saturday, January 23, 2010

Innocence and Confusion

Someone sent me a link to an interview with British novelist Ann Widdecombe about five particular books, and the theme is "Childhood Innocence." Only really, the theme is the loss of innocence, and except for The Jungle Book, all of the books are intended for adults. They are all pretty dour, as well. Of course, Widdecombe is England's former Director of Prisons, which may explain her dislike for happy endings. What I really liked, besides her insights about The Jungle Book, was this statement:
I think we all forget that air of bafflement from childhood: we remember loads of things about childhood – we all remember innocence. I think what we tend to forget is bafflement.


Charlotte said...

I disagree with her generalization. I think to be "baffled" you have to care...and I remember mostly just peacefully going with the flow, unquestioning. I think this is fairly typical. I have never seen any signs of bafflement in my own children, even when I speak to them in French (it is possible they aren't listening to me).

But I do think that when one is a child one can read baffling books without being bothered a bit, as long as there is story.

I, however, like happy endings, and have little interest in directing prisons...

Kate Coombs said...

Good point! Kids don't know what they don't know, so why should they be baffled? And kids have different priorities, like looking at the ladybug over there and maybe talking Mom into some ice cream.

I suppose the way this remark works for me is that I remember being puzzled sometimes by the things adults would do and say--it made no sense, or it didn't resonate with my own world view. Books made more sense to me, on the other hand. Still do!

Yep, I love happy endings, and I find they're more permissable in children's lit. I feel like adult novels these days, the serious fiction, start with sad adults and end with even sadder ones.