Books for Children, Books for Adults

Books for Children, Books for Adults : Age and the Novel from Defoe to James

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In this groundbreaking and wide-ranging study, Teresa Michals explores why some books originally written for a mixed-age audience, such as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, eventually became children's literature, while others, such as Samuel Richardson's Pamela, became adult novels. Michals considers how historically specific ideas about age shaped not only the readership of novels, but also the ways that characters are represented within them. Arguing that age is first understood through social status, and later through the ideal of psychological development, the book examines the new determination of authors at the end of the nineteenth century, such as Henry James, to write for an audience of adults only. In these novels and in their reception, a world of masters and servants became a world of adults and children.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 3 b/w illus.
  • 1139699318
  • 9781139699310

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Rewriting Robinson Crusoe: age and the island; 3. Dating Pamela: Mr B., Goody Two-Shoes, and the age of consent; 4. Rational moralists, highland barbarians, and the taste for adventures; 5. Educating Dickens: Old Boys, Little Mothers, and school time; 6. 'The time of real amusement': Henry James and the cult of adulthood.
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Review quote

'This is the first critical study of so-called children's literature to question the very category of childhood. Michals not only historicizes the notion of childhood but also does so in a way that brilliantly attaches that history to the rise of a metrics of psychological selfhood. As a result, Books for Children, Books for Adults refines all previous accounts of the rise of the English novel by establishing a direct connection between the changing canon of the novel and the equally mutable standard of liberal citizenship.' Nancy Armstrong, Duke University 'A significant addition to the familiar story of 'the rise of the novel'.' Times Higher Education 'Books for Children, Books for Adults is a detailed, and ... engaging blend of publishing and reception history, textual analysis and cultural context.' Alexandra Lawrie, The Times Literary Supplement
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About Teresa Michals

Teresa Michals is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Literature at George Mason University, Virginia.
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