Modernist Repositionings of Rousseau's Ideal Childhood: Place and Space in English Modernist Children's Literature and Its French Translations
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It is a little-known fact that several modernists wrote for children: this project will focus on T.S. Eliot‘s Old Possum‟s Book of Practical Cats, James Joyce‘s The Cat and the Devil, Gertrude Stein‘s The World is Round and Virginia Woolf‘s Nurse Lugton‟s Curtain. While not often thought of as a modernist, I contend that Walter de la Mare‘s short stories for children, especially The Lord Fish, take part in this corpus of modernist texts for children. These children‘s stories, while scarcely represented in critical circles, have enjoyed a wide popular audience and have all been translated into French. Modernism is often considered an elitist movement, but these texts can contribute to its reassessment, as they suggest an effort towards inclusivity of audience. The translation of children‘s literature is a relatively new field of study, which builds from descriptive translation studies with what is unique to children‘s literature: its relation to pedagogy and consequent censorship or other tailoring to local knowledge; frequently, the importance of images; the dual audience that many children‘s books have in relating to the adults who will select, buy and potentially perform the texts; and what Puurtinen calls ‗readaloud- ability‘ for many texts. For these texts and their French translations, questions of children‘s relations to place and space are emphasised, and how these are complicated in translation through domestication, foreignisation and other cultural context adaptations. In particular, these modernists actively write against Rousseau‘s notion of the ―innocent‖ boy delighting in the countryside and learning from nature. I examine the international dialogue that takes place in these ideas of childhood moving between France and England, and renegotiated over the span of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This study thus seeks to contribute to British modernist studies, the growing field of the translation of children‘s literature, and children‘s geographies.
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