Audacious Kids

Audacious Kids : Coming of Age in America's Classic Children's Books

3.36 (11 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$25.00

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


The years stretching from the American Civil War to World War I are regarded as a 'Golden Age of Children's Books'. In this first ever book-length study of the classics of American children's literature, Jerry Griswold analyses twelve tales - including Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Pollyanna, The Wizard of Oz, and The Secret Garden - discovering that these secular parables all tell essentially the same story, and pointing out the extent to which they emphasize motifs that are distinctively more

Product details

  • Hardback | 299 pages
  • 147.32 x 215.9 x 25.4mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones, line drawings
  • 0195058887
  • 9780195058888

Review Text

As argued here by Griswold (English and Comparative Literature/San Diego State Univ.), the "Golden Age" during which the best English and American authors wrote for children was distinguished in America by a common theme and a patriotic agenda. Griswold gives a psychological and psychohistorical reading to a dozen popular stories published between 1865 and 1914, emphasizing the Oedipal patterns in the ur-story they share: In skeleton, an impoverished and/or neglected orphan takes a journey, is adopted into a second family with a same-sex antagonist and an opposite-sex helper, ultimately triumphs, and somehow reconciles his or her first and second lives. Within this framework, Griswold discusses Dorothy's acts of matricide in Oz; the Oedipal taboo that desexualizes the heroine in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (in essence "much like Lolita") and prevents her seemingly inevitable marriage to "Sugar Daddy" Mr. Ladd; and the "long patricidal dream" of Huckleberry Finn, with its many good and bad father-figures and its many instances of father-killing and (less often) son-killing. Later, Tarzan addresses America's need for legitimacy in a "Darwinian dream" infused with Freud; and an emphasis on maturity, self-discipline, and positive thinking are reflected in Little Women, The Secret Garden, and Pollyanna, which Griswold maintains has been unduly scorned. Whatever the status of the individual works he covers, Griswold's analysis is coherent and persuasive, often intriguing in its particulars. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Jerry Griswold

About the Author: Jerry Griswold is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State more

Rating details

11 ratings
3.36 out of 5 stars
5 9% (1)
4 18% (2)
3 73% (8)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X