HP review

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Thu Jul 3 14:09:52 EDT 2003

> I read the Liddle article another way, I think he was accepting
> the ideological baggage children's (and indeed, any) literature carries,
> but poking fun at the idea that we should censor literature that does not
> meet our own social agenda exactly*. So for example, one could be a
> liberal but still enjoy the "grotesque upper-class supremacist,
> stoataphobic document Wind in the Willows.". Because firstly, we might not
> read the book that way, and even if we do it has other strengths, and a
> lot to offer that is of value even if some of its ideology is distasteful
> to many. Ideology is not the be-all and end-all of existence, most of the
> time it's just a part of the general ebb and flow of information. And
> singling ideology out and saying that only books that susbcribe to a
> particular ideological mindset are acceptable is nonsensical, and I would
> argue, dangerous. That way lies fascism, of whatever stripe.

I agree with all of this (and with Roger's similar points in his post). Did
I mention that WitW is one of my favourite books, by the way? I certainly
don't see it as an allegory with a Point or a Message, and of course, like a
lot of great books it is flexible enough to accommodate a good many
interpretations. The interest in class is fairly explicit I should say (not
just with the stoats/weasels but throughout, eg in the Ratty/Mole rel'p) -
one certainly doesn't need to resort to allegory to make it plausible! - but
my main point was simply that this book has its baggage, like any other, and
it's not a sign of intolerance or pseudism to say so. Ideological criticism
isn't the most interesting kind, IMHO, but it's not a a ridiculous, still
less a fascistic, line to take.
Actually, one of the elements I was suspicious of in Liddle's article was
the implication that children/children's lit/children's writers (delete as
applicable) are too - well, childish - to have much to do with such serious
grown-up things as Ideas.

Even so, I feel I'm missing something here. Adams's article didn't (and I
_certainly_ didn't) say a word about censorship or what is 'acceptable' in
children's lit. Where did all this come from? Was it raised in the
correspondence following Adams's article? I haven't read that.


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