- Kindheit zwischen ost und West. Kinderliteratur zwischen Kaltem Krieg und neuem Europa
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The conference proceedings for “Childhood between East and West,” which unite contributions by children’s literature experts from eight European countries, explore the interaction between political and social ideology and practice on the one hand and the aesthetics of literature for children and young adults on the other. Examples from Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia demonstrate how political and social developments shaped children’s literature in the East and West, before and after the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
Using a socio-literary approach, Caroline Roeder portrays the pains and perils children’s book authors from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) had to suffer in the face of state censorship. Similar considerations underlie the essay tracing the controversial debate that took place in 1950s Slovakia (Andrea Mikulášová) on the “Westernness” of Erich Kästner’s children’s books. Other contributions assess the importance of specific literary genres. The parable, for example, established itself as the traditional form of children’s literature in Bulgaria because it allowed authors to comment upon human society in the guise of harmless animal stories (Lilia Ratcheva-Stratieva). In Hungary, it was and still is the genre of the fairy tale that served as a medium of indirect social criticism; however, this led to a lack of problem-oriented realistic literature for children and young adults (Sarolta Lipóczi). The situation was different in the GDR: while reflecting the extra-textual world with changing character constructions, East-German children’s literature also obeyed intrinsic aesthetic impulses (Karin Richter). Zuzana Stanislavová observes a similar development in Slovak young adult fiction, which repeatedly shifts its focus from the collective socialization of the child in the 1950s and 1970s to the individual coming of age in the 1960s and 1980s.
The twelve essays differ not only in methodology and thematic focus, but also in their level of sophistication, ranging from personal, anecdotal accounts to more complex academic arguments. [End Page 82]