Thursday, October 20, 2022

"Dangerous Children"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Dangerous Children: On Seven Novels and a Story by Kenneth Gross.

About the book, from the publisher:

Gross explores our complex fascination with uncanny children in works of fiction.

Ranging from Victorian to modern works—Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, Henry James’s What Maisie Knew, J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, Franz Kafka’s “The Cares of a Family Man,” Richard Hughes’s A High Wind in Jamaica, Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—Kenneth Gross’s book delves into stories that center around the figure of a strange and dangerous child.

Whether written for adults or child readers, or both at once, these stories all show us odd, even frightening visions of innocence. We see these children’s uncanny powers of speech, knowledge, and play, as well as their nonsense and violence. And, in the tales, these child-lives keep changing shape. These are children who are often endangered as much as dangerous, haunted as well as haunting. They speak for lost and unknown childhoods. In looking at these narratives, Gross traces the reader’s thrill of companionship with these unpredictable, often solitary creatures—children curious about the adult world, who while not accommodating its rules, fall into ever more troubling conversations with adult fears and desires. This book asks how such imaginary children, objects of wonder, challenge our ways of seeing the world, our measures of innocence and experience, and our understanding of time and memory.
The Page 69 Test: Shylock Is Shakespeare.

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Writers Read: Kenneth Gross (July 2007).

Writers Read: Kenneth Gross (November 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue