The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Novels of Childhood: The Question of Idealization in Twain and Ballard 12th Grade

Eugene Ionesco once remarked that, ‘Childhood is the world of miracle or of magic: it is as if creation rose luminously out of the night, all new and fresh and astonishing,’ an extremely idealistic perception of children and their lives. Whilst children see the world through this lens of innocence, we sometimes forget that they still see the same world we see, including its horrors. Novels about childhood can be guilty of presenting the child in an idealised light; a light that reflects only the good things surrounding their childhood: their apparent “filtered” and “censored” perspective of the world, a comfortable upbringing, a world of imaginative play and safely nurtured development. An idealised version of the child presents them as someone might want them to be, if everything were perfect; a presentation presumed by a lack of realistic perspective and oversight. However, it cannot be said that novels about childhood are always guilty of presenting the child in an idealised light, as throughout different periods of literature, many writers have exhumed a realistic presentation of children and their childhood, presenting both their ups and downs. Although some novels about childhood may present sensationalised detail, for...

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