|About the Book|
Why have certain literary texts that were originally written for adults ended up being read exclusively for children, and why have other texts written specifically for children offered a level of content that can only be destined for an adult reader,MoreWhy have certain literary texts that were originally written for adults ended up being read exclusively for children, and why have other texts written specifically for children offered a level of content that can only be destined for an adult reader, one far more cognizant and sophisticated than the explicitly addressed child audience? Using a combined historical and rhetorical approach to the origin of the genre of childrens literature in France, a literature whose very definition is predicated upon the age of its reader, this study explicates the often contradictory experience of reading (whether as child or as adult), as the fundamental dynamic found in the genre from Jean de La Fontaine to the twentieth century: from his Le Corbeau et le Renard, Perraults Le Petit Chaperon rouge, and dAulnoys LOiseau bleu- to Le Tour de la France par deux enfants by Bruno, and Le Petit Prince by Saint-Exupery.-In the eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was the first to question the moral use of the Fables of La Fontaine in the service of childrens education. He noted the consequences of a double way to read La Fontaine, either through a naive understanding of the text or a mature one. In Emile, Rousseau introduces age for the first time as a criterion for determining what kind of reading is appropriate.-By expanding upon Gerald Princes concept of le narrataire to allow for multiple narratees in a given text, this dissertation analyses the specific works of French childrens literature mentioned above and others. The question of a double reading (naive vs mature understanding), inevitably comes to imply a split readership (child vs adult addressees), and a concomitant reevaluation of the border between young and old.-Under the name of childrens education, many authors have thus used the child addressee to send a message to the adult. Alternatively, since the classical period, much so-called childrens literature has perpetuated the building of normative behavior in young readers. Such antinomies of content are, at the very least, critically enabled by the contradictory dynamics of reading explored in this study.