YA literature as storytelling

Ika blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Mon Mar 29 05:32:51 EST 2004

Was just looking something up and came across Walter Benjamin's essay "The
Storyteller", and it reminded me of the discussion over alternative names
for YA lit (as unified by genre rather than by market). I think it's
possible to read Benjamin's distinction between the 'novelist' and the
'storyteller' as corresponding to 'adult novelist'/'YA writer'.

For Benjamin (roughly), the writer and the reader of the novel are both
isolated, and the novel is completely consumed in the writing/reading of
it, with no remainder: it's an art form which is self-contained and closed
off from the world. By contrast, "the storyteller is a man* who has
counsel for his readers... Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is
wisdom. The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side
of truth, wisdom, is dying out."

Which reminded me of the title of the collection of essays on DWJ, and
also I think the idea of "counsel" gets quite nicely at the way YA
literature seems to be characterized - not by being didactic or preachy at
all, but by... well, having counsel for its readers.

Okay, back to work.

Love, Ika

*He was writing in the 30s...

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