Froggy’s Little Brother: Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Writing for Children and the Politics of Poverty
This article addresses Froggy's Little Brother (1875), a British nineteenth-century “street arab” novel about destitute London children, through the lens of postcolonial theory. It illustrates how fictional conventions magnifying the plight of the poor child helped focus the debate over the “politics of poverty” at issue in Victorian society. In Froggy's Little Brother, the author, Brenda, had to navigate the waters of public opinion very carefully. The book also makes use of conventions to underline the urgent need to attend to the poor. It may often misrepresent Victorian London's poor children, but it is one of the key texts that sought to carve out a place for them in culture and helped create pathways by which their stories were gathered and told.
This article asks big questions about children's literature using Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871) as case studies: how do “adult” and “child” readers make meanings from children's texts, and how is power exercised over those meanings? From the answers to these questions, it also seeks to discover whether the meaning of a “book for children” can be deduced. The two key factors in approaching a text are who the reader is and why she/he is reading the text; and the only thing that might be confidently stated is that the “adult” reader is more likely than the “child” reader to have a purpose other than personal gratification in reading the text. Because children are part of the critical and philosophical equation, working with children's books requires the kind of complexity, ambiguity, and flexibility that Carroll demonstrated in these densely woven masterpieces.
M. O. Grenby
This article argues that attending to the various historical and geographical contexts which inform the setting of Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751 (1886) and the 1880s British milieu in which Robert Louis Stevenson wrote allows the novel to comment upon political and cultural debates of long-standing importance in British life. Kidnapped is set in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745–6. It is a classic bildungsroman, following David from orphanhood to adulthood, and charting his psychological development and education in the ways of the world. The complete fusion of Stevenson's individual characters' narratives and their psychological drama with the complex historical setting was one of his greatest achievements in Kidnapped. The picturesque was both political and psychologically crucial, as only a full investigation of the novel's multiple contexts can reveal.
Eric L. Tribunella
This article investigates Thomas Hughes's Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857) through the lenses of queer and postcolonial theory to suggest the ways in which homosocial networks and homosocial desire both upheld and threatened to destabilize the hegemony of the British empire as young people attending elite boarding schools were socialized into norms of acceptable behavior. It considers the historical record regarding the schoolboy crush. The article also argues that schoolboy crushes promote the ideals of same-sex bonding while avoiding the danger that romantic friendships might cross the line into prohibited relationships of sex, contamination, and vice. The intimate friendship between Tom and George Arthur is met with similar suspicion in Tom Brown's Schooldays; nevertheless, Tom's relationship with Arthur manages to circumvent this danger. The concept of hero worship connects the notion of the crush with the spiritual sanctification experienced by Tom Brown over the course of Tom Brown's Schooldays.
Beverly Lyon Clark
This article reviews Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer (1876) in terms of the depiction of Indians and in relation to audience. It argues that Injun Joe performs an essential mediating function between adult and child. The article aims to do what Machor and Goldstein might consider a postmodern reception study, in two movements: on the one hand it explores some overt questions about the audience for Twain's book; on the other, it attempts to unpack some of “the biases or local interests” that govern his novel, focusing specifically on the biases which inform his discursive treatment of Native Americans. Indeed, the figure of the Indian becomes a way of mediating between child and adult. Much of the power of Twain's writing derives from the way he would seem to collapse boundaries as he plays with audience, rethinking genre and witching tones.