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Reviews Christine Alexander andJuliet McMaster, eds. The Child WriterfromAusten to Woof. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), xv + 312. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. The Child WriterfromAustento Woofasks us to question how we think of the equation between children andwriting. In doing so, it wiU not onlybring juvenilia to greater scholarly attention,itwiU also redefine the scope andgenre of "children's literature." Despite the excellent academic research made available by journals such as TheLion andthe Unicorn, Children'sUteratureAssociationQuarterly, andMarvelsandTales, in some institutions the study of literaturewritten by adults for children can still occupy a scholarly and curricular borderland. The past fewyears havewitnessed a flurry of activityin the children's industry - made evident by the best-seller status of the HarryPotterandLemonySnicket series, the resurrection of the Narnia chronicles and the Lordof Rings trilogy, and the popularity (on page and stage) of Gregory Maguire's re-working of children's classics. It remains to be seen whether this commercial flurry - and its corresponding critical flutter - wiUvalidate the study of children's literature, even if onlyinsofar as it forms a sub-genre of the all-consuming field of culturalstudies . If literature^irchildren occupies such an ambiguous academic niche, what kind of positionwiUliterature bychildren be able to secure? If we agree with The Child Writer, as a self-coherent genre, juvenilia deserves anindependent position in literary studies. This coUection takes as its scope the long nineteenth century and as its subject the Victorian child. We are used to considering this period as responsible for developing a bodyof writing specificaUy designed to produce a new kind of subject the child. The ChildWriterturns this logic on its head by askingus to think of the child producing her own subjectivity through an uncannily adultwriting. The volume contains numerous short essays and is edited by Christine Alexander andJuliet McMaster, who each also contribute several essays. McMaster founded and served as General Editor ofJuvenilia Press until succeeded by Alexander. Begunin 1994 at the University of Alberta, the press recovers and produces editions of nineteenth-century juvenilia, includingworks byJane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Louisa May Alcott The Child Writertakes us through various aspects of this process. Thevolume valuably addresses saUentcomponents of denning and describingwhat constitutes juvenilia, from 86volume 32 number 1 Reviews providing a genealogy of the term itself, to supplying a comprehensive annotated bibUography of nineteenth-century juvenilia. The editors divide the collection into two sections. The first consists of essays describing the field of juvenilia: its generic scope, its epistemology, questions of authorship, the concerns and practices of editing. The second section consists of essays on individual authors. The majority of these essays treat familiar figures:JaneAusten, Charlotte and Branwell Bronte, Byron, Elizabeth Barrett, George EUot,John Ruskin, and Louisa May Alcott The final two essays address the lesser-known childhood writings of MaryAugusta Ward and Amy Levy. The editors argue for the importance of examining juvenilia primarily as an independent body of Uterature, instead of reading texts only in relation to an author's mature production. Yet each of the essays in the second section discusses child writing in terms of the biographical lightit sheds and the artistic development it reveals. Any essay discussing the chüdhood writings of Austen, Bronte or EUotwould have a difficult time not analyzing the early texts forwhat they reveal about the later writings or writer. However, by making available new materials, current editorial workwiU hopefully promote new approaches. The future expansion of the field beyond the study of such familiar authors might encourage our release from the enchantment of evolution - both biographical and Uterary - and encourage the analysis of texts from the perspective advocated by the introduction. Whüe Tbe Child Writerpresents many interestingways to look at juvenilia, for this very reason it also faces some challenges. One of the problems Ues in delimiting the scope of juvenilia itself.Justhow old must one be to count as a junior? Shelley's Frankenstein, composed at age eighteen, is considered a mature novel; Woolf's "A Dialogue's upon Mount PeHcus," composed at age twentyfour , is considered juverulia. The determination of an author's status seems more a question of artistic maturation rather than a question of age. Like...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 86-88
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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