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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article combines cultural history with the insights of psychoanalytic theory, reading Maurice Sendak's Caldecott-winning and controversial Where the Wild Things Are (1963) in relation to his larger oeuvre. It reviews Where the Wild Things Are as a psychoanalytic treatise in picture-book form. Sendak's achievement in Wild Things comes not only from personal genius but also from his complex engagement with psychological discourse. Wild Things has been embraced as a psychological primer, a story about anger and its management through fantasy; it is also a text in which echoes of Freud are audible. It is furthermore a highly successful experiment in picture-book psychology. The Wolf Man's dream helped make Freud famous and came to signify his expertise, and so too with Sendak's dream of the wolf boy. Queerness, in Sendak's case, might apply to everything about his life and work that is nonconformist, difficult, or melancholic.

Keywords: Maurice Sendak, Wild Things, psychoanalytic theory, picture book, anger, fantasy, Freud, queerness

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