MEMORIES – Part 1.


It is a mistake to go back to the scenes of your past, except in your memory.  In reality the houses are smaller, duller, in fact quite ordinary – while in memory they glow with personality, housing as they do the special events and special people that form the warp and weft of the fabric of life.

All the houses in which I’ve lived have revisited me in my dreams – some more than others.  In particular the ‘town’ house in Barmera, and the rented houses in Glenelg and Seaton Park loom large in my subconscious life.  For some reason the Barmera ‘town’ house, as opposed to the ‘block’ house, was crucial to my life – we did live there for eight years, the longest stay in any house.

I have visited most of the houses in my adult years, and apart from the houses in Seaton Park and in Rose Park in which I lived in my late teens, they all appeared to be much smaller and meaner than I remembered them.  They were huge houses, done up with great taste by my parents who could never leave a house as they found it.  Even the rental properties were not exempt from their renovations – floors were stripped and sanded, walls were knocked out (in the ones they owned), bathrooms renovated and kitchens over-hauled.  In later years, my father rather relied on my judgement, asking for my opinion on walls that needed removing and windows that needed widening.

My ealiest memories are of the stairs that led from the gate in the picket fence down deep into the garage at the back of Auntie Dot’s place.  We used to hang on the fence and peer down into the darkness at the bottom, imagining all sorts of creatures that were waiting to get us if we ventured below.  I recall that there were, in particular, a goblin and a dragon.  As we grew we discovered that there was a lane that ran along the back of the garage, in fact along the row of houses – a lane we were to use every day on our way home from Kindy and School.  Inevitably the day came when we had to go through the garage and up the stairs to Auntie Dot’s, where our mother was visiting.  We trembled, hesitated, gathered our courage and began the climb.  Halfway up, one of us saw a movement and heard a rustle.  A snake!!  We flew up those stairs in sheer terror and took quite a considerable amount of calming.

From this one incident evolved a spectacular nightmare that was to recur throughout my childhood and adolescence.  I was running along the back lane as fast as I could with a dragon pursuing me, slithering and scrambling up those steps to reach the safety of the yard.  But I was unable to get through the gate at the top, always kept locked to prevent little children from falling down the steps.  Of course, I always awoke at this point in the dream, sweating and shaking.  As I grew older and recognized the dream as it began I learnt to waken myself, tell myself that it was only a dream, and go back to sleep after an interval of intense concentration about something, anything else.

I remember climbing up a street towards Big Judy’s house in Pascoe Vale as a toddler.  There was a low brick wall outside her house which was two-storeyed, with a curved glass wall around the stairwell – very Art Deco.  She had a Scottish walking doll as tall as me, dressed in a kilt, with a tam on its head, and lovely long lashes.  My sister was very covetous of this doll, but I much prefered the house.

My father built a large Art Deco house in Henley Beach, South Australia, after we moved there from Victoria.  It was innovative, set up high on the hilly block with a double brick garage set below but in front, with a concrete slab roof that formed a balconied patio.  The drive went up beside it to the side of the house, plus there was a double drive into the garage below.  A rock garden bordered the property beside these constructions, and the back yard was big, lawned, with swings and a sand-pit for my sister, brother and I to play in.

The lounge room had a curved wall with large windows, the kitchen had the latest modern equipment, a new round-topped fridge, electric cooker, and black and white tiled floor.  The bathroom was amazing.  The bath and hand basin were pink, set into a black-tiled room – the ceramic wall tiles when wiped with a child’s wet soapy hand played rainbows of colours across its surface.  The bedrooms were lovely, and there was a utility room out the back where my mother held playgroup for local children.  We sat in a circle as she sang in her glorious voice:

           Good morning to you little boy/girl, little

          boy/girl, little boy/girl, good morning to

          you little boy/girl, what’s your name?

The child addressed would sing out their name.  When it came to our turns, my brother and I would answer : Hector and Georgina, which were not our names.  Then we’d all laugh.  I have no idea why we chose those names – it’s not a name I particularly liked.  I think it was really done to get a response from our mother who was sharing our time with all those other children.

I remember one Guy Fawke’s night when I hid in the bathroom from the bangers, with Pride, our Collie dog.  I watched the Catherine Wheels, and the Rockets, and the Roman Fountains, and played happily with Sparklers, but as soon as the Bangers and the Jumping Jacks came out I was off, with the dog close behind me.  I refused to come out until all the explosions had stopped.

My sister had a very bad accident at that house.  There was no railing around the top of the garage roof, and one day she fell off it, down onto the concrete drive below.  Dad was distraught and angry with himself – she was his favourite, and he’d caused her harm by not putting in a railing.  Of course, she shouldn’t have been messing around that close to the edge anyway, but she had spirit and was always pushing the boundaries.  He installed a rail after that.

My doll suffered a cracked skull in the garden bed there – I’d left her out accidentally overnight and the frost was so cold that it robbed her of all her colour and cracked the back of her head.  I painted pink cheeks, lips and nails on her with mother’s nail polish, but could do nothing with her head.  She was my favourite and I loved her dearly.  Even now, having had to replace her with an identical doll when she got plastic cancer – a condition where the plastic shrivelled and gave off a vinegar smell – I could not throw her away.  She is stored in a bag in a cupboard in the spare room.  And I can’t feel the same attachment to the replacement doll, no matter how identical it is.

My brother nearly ‘drownded’ in the estuary outlet nearby while we lived there, or perhaps when we were visiting Auntie Rite as we often did on trips down from Barmera.  We would roam along the waterway at the back to the estuary – the outlet had huge sloping concrete walls, with grooves for steps down its sides.  We loved to follow them playing at being giants, seeing who could step from one to another without slipping, or missing any.  My sister, by dint of her older age, was the best at it.  One day as we searched for tadpoles along the creek leading to the outlet, my brother slipped on the bank and fell in.

He couldn’t swim, and neither could I, but my sister had done some swimming.  Auntie Rite’s son was with us, and he jumped in and saved my brother as he gurgled and splashed about.  A man walking his dog came and helped us, and carried my brother home to my parents, who were horrified that we had been down at the outlet in the first place.  We weren’t exactly allowed to go there.  And, after that, we were strictly forbidden from going near the place ever again.  Auntie Rite’s son was a hero, while we were in disgrace.  The fact that he took us there was beside the point.

I remember on one of our visits to Auntie Rite’s that we were sent to the bakery at the end of the road to get bread for her.  It was quite a walk for children, past many houses including Auntire Dot’s and Anne and Charles’ place – they were named after the prince and princess, and were about the same age as them.  We teased a dog behind a big brush fence as we trudged to the corner shop.  There is no way children of today would be sent on such an errand.  We walked home hugging the warm bread to our chests.

When we reached Auntie Rite’s we sat inside her fence and picked at the rounded front surface of the loaf – just to level it with the crust.  We picked a bit more, tearing off strips of the warm bread and chewing it delicately.  Eventually we had hollowed the whole loaf out and were left with only the crust shell.  Horrors!  Now we had to go and tell Auntie Rite.  And what would Mother say?!

They were very angry with us, and we were immediately sent back to the bread shop with our pocket money to buy another loaf for Auntie Rite.  Mother was embarrassed, and Auntie Rite thought it was funny – we could hear her laughing as we hurried down her steep drive to her gate, on our way back to the Bakery.  We laughed as we walked along, picturing the empty loaf sitting, still wrapped around with tissue paper, on Auntie Rite’s kitchen table.

(C) Jud House  25/01/2013

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EAST PERTH GRAVEYARD


The order was given – Go to an old graveyard in East Perth, with an open umbrella. Write about birth.  Observe what you see!

In Repose 001

The wind was roaring through the graveyard on Sunday afternoon when my husband and I went there.  As there were fires in several places in the hills, this made the already gale-force wind gritty.  I needn’t have bothered opening the umbrella – what I expected to happen did happen.  The umbrella immediately blew inside out, and Peter laughed.  He already thought the whole incident humorous – but he also made me go, not allowing me to pop up to the cemetery in Mundaring instead.

The appearance of the graveyard is one of neglect – the grass was yellow and long, except for a few spots of green under trees, the headstones stood at odd angles, though some were still in place, while others were lying flat or missing altogether, the wrought iron railings were in need of maintenance, and the trees were overgrown and straggly.  There were huge Cypresses – four at the corners of one grave with their foliage merging over it – great Peppermint trees which the settlers planted in place of willows, and Cape Lilacs with yellowing leaves providing meagre shade.

The old church, St. Bartholomew’s, was built in the 1870’s to save the settlers from the long trudge to the cemetery with caskets at sunrise and sunset – it was too hot during the rest of the day.  From inside the roof showed spots of sky – no doubt the rain gets in in Winter – and the floorboards were worn and uneven.  But on the whole it was in a reasonable state of repair – due to the work of the Historical Trust people who were giving guided tours of the cemetery to any visitors.

I sat on a bench under a Cypress and thought about the transience of life and how that affects the topic on which I was to write – birth.  To sit and contemplate that, and all it entailed,  while gazing at the unkempt, almost forgotten graveyard, was a strange sensation.  The notion that the importance of a single life is irrelevant occurred to me – one is born, one lives, one dies.  One enters the world amidst pain, if not one’s own then definitely one’s mother’s.  One often leaves the world amidst pain, which those lucky few who slip away in their sleep can by-pass.  Then after death can come decay and neglect, as the East Perth Cemetery shows.  And to whom does it matter what mark we made while alive?  Only our family and friends.  The population of this planet is so vast that our lives are not noticed.  And this planet is miniscule in its Universe and the Cosmos beyond – we are nothing.

A birth is such a miraculous personal event to the participants, but it is just nature’s way of furthering the species – every day, every minute, and probably every second somewhere in the world.  While birth is the initial step, death is the final step in this sequence.  During birth there is no time to think about mortality – birth is too immediate, too violent, too all-consuming.  Every fibre of the mother is focussed on breathing and pushing to complete her nine months of creation.

It’s like writing a story – a writer creates a thing with a beginning, a middle and an end – there must be an end somewhere.  To hold a new-born baby is to feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to protect that child, nuture it, and help it grow to adulthood.  That is as far as a new parent dares to think.  And the notion that the child could die before the parent is unthinkable.

Yet despite the apparent futility of life, specifically, births are vital for mankind’s future existence.  And sitting in the graveyard, with signs of neglect all around, with the wind howling through the trees and blowing rubbish across the ground, I felt curiously at peace, and unafraid of my own mortality.

(C) Jud House  19/08/2006 & 25/01/2013

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CINDERELLA – HISTORICAL CULTURAL VARIANTS


CINDERELLA:  Selected variants from different historical periods and the way in which stories reflect the culture out of which they arise.

Although hundreds of variants exist of the fairy tale, CINDERELLA, I have chosen, for expediency and as representative of four historical periods, the following versions (course hand-outs):  THE CHINESE CINDERELLA, 850 AD; Charles Perrault’s  CENDRILLON and d’Aulnoy’s FINETTE CENDRON, contrasting pair, late C17th; Grimm Bros.’ CINDERELLA, C19th; and Disney’s CINDERELLA, C20th. The pairing of the seventeenth century stories will provide a clearer picture of the culture of their era.

There were variants of THE CHINESE CINDERELLA story, but although the heroine’s name may change from Shih Chieh to Yeh-Shen, the components of the fish, magic bones, and slipper remained a constant.  There were many elements within the story  which disclosed historical cultural information to the reader, who was informed in the opening paragraph that the story was set in pre-dynastical times, among cave-dwelling country and island folk.  These were ruled by a chieftain, Shih Chieh’s father, while the more military and powerful of them are ruled directly by a king.

Culturally the reader learns that the status of women was very low in China at that time.  The women were under the control of the patriarch/father, or when he was no longer there – as in Shih Chieh’s case – the matriarch/step-mother, unquestioningly carrying out designated tasks.  The women were bound together in their subordination to the patriarchy, just as their feet were bound.

Thus in China, where the “lotus foot,” or tiny foot was such a sign of a woman’s worth that the custom of foot-binding developed, the Cinderella tale lays emphasis on an impossibly small slipper as a clue to   the heroine’s identity. (Yolen, 1977, p. 298)

The beauty of tiny feet was only in the eye of the male beholder.  And when a king decided to marry a woman – in this case, Shih Chieh – it was as good as done.  Chinese women were passive, and compliant:   “when he [the king] demanded to see her, she appeared ….” and “the king bore her away to his kingdom to be his wife.” (Hume, 1962, p. 2)  There was no suggestion of choice for Shih Chieh concerning her future.

Shih Chieh was depicted as “not only beautiful … [but] clever, as well, and always happy” (Hume, 1962, p. 1) – when her father was alive.  She showed herself to be obedient to her step-mother’s demands, no matter how unreasonable or dangerous.  Yet she was secretive  – she hid the fish in her room, then in the pond.  Later, when the bones had also been secretly buried, she decked herself in azure gown and gold slippers and, disobediently, followed her stepmother and stepsister to the festival.

Thus the reader sees that she was not completely passive, though obviously subordinate, economically, to her stepmother and step-sister.  However, her degree of self-help is founded on the aid rendered to her by the ‘magic’ fish and the ‘angelic’ male stranger who advised her.

Finally, Shih Chieh was incidental to the ending of the story, which was primarily about the fish and the slipper.  But her beauty, passivity and luck was rewarded by marriage to the king, who, due to greed, lost the magic bones.

In late seventeenth century France, Charles Perrault and Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy wrote their versions of the Cinderella story – Perrault’s being the most well-known.  At that time it was fashionable to take oral folk tales, previously and traditionally told by older women to young girls to prepare them for and assist them over the turbulent initiation into adulthood, and transcribe them to written tales for the entertainment and formal socialization of the aristocracy, and Bourgeoisie, both adults and children.

Perrault’s CENDRILLON/ CINDERELLA OR THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER was written tongue-in-cheek, not to be taken seriously,

primarily intended for adult reading, as [he] had made obvious; they were a reflection of the artificial world of court life, though each story was dutifully provided with a moral. (Whalley, 1980, p.141)

He introduced into the tale a godmother, an extra stepsister, animals, a magicked pumpkin, and a time limit set on Cinderella’s ball-attendance.  While the fish was omitted from the tale, he made much of the slipper motif.

Cinderella was shown as obedient, compliant, passive and beautiful, only able to get her prince with the assistance of her god-mother, and her magic.  Her beauty of face and nature were rewarded, including her forgiveness of her stepsisters’ unkindness and ill-treatment of her.

Cinderella was as good as she was beautiful and she brought her two sisters to live in the palace, and they were married on the self-same day to two great lords at the court. (Perrault, 1697, p. 100 – Hand/Out)

The characteristics of “gentility, grace, and selflessness” Perrault considered socially acceptable for “the well-bred seventeenth century female” (Yolen , 1977,p. 296), and he promoted these in his tales.  With the right attributes a woman could attain her highest reward – that of marriage, and financial security – essential for women in that insecure period.

Contrary to Perrault’s version was that of d’Aulnoy, FINETTE CENDRON, which incorporated elements of other tales, such as the Cyclops and Minotaur Greek myths, Hansel and Gretel, and Jack and the Beanstalk.  A much longer, more complex story than Perrault’s, it involved the journey, both actual and symbolic, of the heroine towards maturity (a right-of-passage story) and marital security.  As a female writer, d’Aulnoy presented a different picture of women at that time.  Her heroine, Finette Cendron, was “the best-hearted girl in the world” (d’Aulnoy in Zipes, 1989, p. 404), obliging, considerate, mindful of customs, loyal, virtuous, practical, grateful, not greedy, accepting of advice (by her godmother), secretive, gullible, vulnerable, resourceful, courageous, ingenious, lucky, obedient, forgiving, polite with good manners, possessed of common sense, (these attributes are supported throughout the text) and, finally, was able to recognize and use her power to restore her family’s fortune.

And when she told them the names of her father and mother, they recognized them as sovereigns of dominions they had conquered.  When they informed Finette of this fact, she immediately vowed that she would not consent to marry the prince until they had restored the estates of her father. (d’Aulnoy in Zipes, 1989,pp. 415 -416)

Finette was a multi-facetted, three-dimensional character, able to control not only her own destiny but that of her family, unlike Perrault’s Cendrillon who had few attributes/facets and was one-dimensional.

D’Aulnoy’s story was to be taken seriously, demonstrating to readers, paricularly girls, that they could control their own destinies, even if marriage and financial security was still the ultimate reward.  Her version touched on issues of subordination – women to men, younger to older, lower class to upper class – and that of abandonment, a common economical occurrence at that time.  She showed, through Finette, that women were actually far removed from the ideal that Perrault strove to enforce.

In the Grimm Bros.’ version of CINDERELLA the heroine was portrayed as passively submissive to the step-mother and step-sisters.  The idea of mother-protection was introduced into the story, in the form of a magic tree planted on her mother’s grave, with a little white bird that “threw down to her what she wished for” (Grimm,1975, p.122).  Cinderella was shown to be a little more human, weeping when sad, begging her step-mother to allow her to go to the festival, and endeavouring to complete the allotted tasks, no matter how impossible they seemed in order to do so.  The Grimm brothers also introduced the complicity of the birds, without whose assistance Cinderella would have remained in her subjugated position.

Cinderella was rescued from her degradation by the intervention of the King’s son who did not give up his search until he had found the true wearer of the shoe.  In this story the depiction of self-mutilation that the step-sisters undertook in order to get their prince, was a reflection, if perhaps an exaggeration, of the lengths a woman would, and should go to, to achieve married status.  The tale ended with reward for the heroine for her goodness, beauty, and patience, and with punishment for the step-sisters of blindness meted out by the birds.

Writing in the nineteenth century, the Grimm brothers wanted to use their tales to educated and socialize children, who were to take as their role models the heroes and heroines of the tales.  They were precursors for the perfect Aryan race, where all were blonde and blue-eyed, the women passive and domesticated, and the men strong, clever, and in control of society.  Their message of reward and punishment was just as important as that of the desired character traits for male and female children.

Disney’s story, CINDERELLA, was a composite of Perrault’s and the Grimms’ stories, with some twentieth century bowdlerization and romanticism added.  As Disney’s version was created visually simultaneously with the script, his illustrations depicted his notions of the perfect female character, as did the text.  His Cinderella was shown as “the sweetest and most beautiful girl in the world.” (Disney, 1965, p. 193)  She had blonde hair, and blue eyes, and a shapely figure under her tattered gown and apron.  Disney utilised the animal element, not merely for magical effect with the pumpkin, but as companions for Cinderella in her lonely kitchen and attic, to show just how loveable she was – even all the animals and birds loved her.  “She made little clothes for them, and gave them all names.” (Disney, 1965 p. 193)

In Disney’s version the stepsisters were portrayed as ugly, physically as well as in character – they were rude, sarcastic, lazy, and jealous of Cinderella’s beauty.  The step-mother’s cruelty was shown by the way she treated Cinderella as a servant, the way she spoke to her and locked her in the attic.  The only violence in Disney’s version was the scene where the sisters snatched the decorations from Cinderella’s first gown.  Sympathy for his heroine had to be established in the reader/viewer, but not at the expense of frightening the children/audience.

Disney retained the godmother, but made her a fairy to help explain her magic to a twentieth century audience.  He retained the slipper and its loss, and the search by the prince for the owner of the slipper.  He borrowed from Grimm the idea of the tasks to be completed before his heroine could have permission to attend the ball, although he updated them to house-cleaning tasks rather than the picking out of grains from the ashes.

Up the stairway she carried breakfast trays for her stepmother and her two lazy stepsisters.  And down she came with a basket of mending, some clothes to wash, and a long list of jobs to do for the day. (ibid, p. 195)

The ‘Happily ever after’ ending belonged entirely to Cinderella, and to any young girl who was as sweet of nature and beautiful of face and figure as she.  The message was clear – if a girl is prepared to be these things, and be patient and wait, then one day her prince would also come and reward her with marriage and security.  The message for boys was that

[t]he goal of every prince (every man) [was] fulfilled by a beautiful, long-haired young woman, with a fair complexion, especially if she is connected to a castle, money, and power. (Zipes, 1986, pp. 160 – 161)

Throughout the Cinderella versions the message has remained the same – except for d’Aulnoy’s version, which even so still ended in marriage and security.

In the early to mid-twentieth century women were still not in control of their own destinies.  They were considered subordinate to men and to each other, both economically and generationally.  A woman’s place was in the home, doing housework and taking care of the family – child-minding.  She was to be protected by her male/father/husband/son, and be patient, hard-working, uncomplaining, virtuous, sweet, loveable, and if possible as beautiful as cosmetics would make her.  Disney reflects and upholds these attributes with his version of Cinderella, although at the time he produced it he was merely reflecting the ‘normal’ society in which he lived.

All these versions have done just that, while retaining and modifying the original to suit the changes in their societies’ attitudes and their own particular views and biasses, regarding the behaviour of both sexes within these societies.  The authors

retained (or inserted) [various elements into their tales] because … [as] narrators, [they] instinctively or unconsciously, felt their literary ‘significance’. Even where a prohibition in a fairy story is guessed to be derived from some taboo practised long ago, it has been preserved in the later stages of the tale’s history because of the great mythical significance of prohibition.  (Tolkien, 1990,p. 142)

Despite its historical setting, the actual historical period and culture of the written tale is textually obvious.

(C) Jud House  19/08/2006 & 7/01/2013

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Babbitt, N. (1970)  “Happy Endings?  Of Course, and Also Joy.’  in Haviland, V. Editor(1973)  CHILDREN  AND LITERATURE  Views and Reviews.  London:  The Bodley Head Ltd.

Buchan, J. (1931)  ‘The Novel and the Fairy Tale’.  in Haviland, V. Editor (1973) AND LITERATURE  Views and Reviews.  London:  The Bodley Head Ltd.

Butler, F. Editor. (1975)  CHILDREN’S LITERATURE VOL 4.  Philadelphia:  Temple University Press.

Gilbert, R. (1990)  ‘Endings’  in  MEANJIN  Vol. 49 (1990)

Haviland, V.  Editor. (1973)   ‘Folk Literature and Fantasy’  in  CHILDREN AND LITERA -TURE  Views and Reviews.  London:  The Bodley Head Ltd.

Le Guin, Ursula. (19   )  ‘This Fear of Dragons’  in  THE THORNY PARADISE: Writers  on Writing for Children.  Blishen, E. Editor.  Harmondsworth, UK: Kestrel Books

Lewis, C.S.  (1952)  ‘On Three Ways of Writing for Children.’  in  BOURNEMOUTH  CONFERENCE PAPERS AND DISCUSSION.  Library Association Proceedings.

Liberman, Anatoly. (1985)  ‘Between Myth and the Wondertale.’  in  MYTH IN LITERA-TURE. Kodjak, A., Pomorska, K., Rudy,S. Editors.  Columbia, Ohio: Slavica Publishers Inc.

Kegan, Paul  Editor.  (1975)  ‘The Six Swans.’  from  THE COMPLETE GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES.  London:  Routledge. (H/O)

Perrault, Charles. ‘Cendrillon.’  from Zipes, J. Editor (1989) BEAUTIES, BEASTS AND ENCHANTMENT.  Meridian:  Penguin.

Philip, Neil. (1989)  THE CINDERELLA STORY; The Origins and Variations of the Story known as Cinderella.  Penguin Books Ltd.

Shavit, Z. (1986)  ‘The Notion of Childhood and Texts for the Child.’  in  POETICS OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE.  Athens & London: University of Georgia Press.

Tolkien, J.R.R.  (1964)  ON FAIRY-STORIES.  in  POEMS AND STORIES.  Williamson F.R. & Tolkien C.R. Editors.  London:  Harper Collins Publishers (1992)

Yolen, Jane. Editor. (1986)  FAVOURITE FOLKTALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD.Pantheon.

Zipes, Jack. Editor. (1993)  DON’T BET ON THE PRINCE; Contemporary FeministFairy Tales in North America and England.  U.K.: Scolar Press

Zipes, Jack. (1983)  FAIRY TALES AND THE ART OF SUBVERSION.  London: Heine-mann Educational Books Ltd.

Zipes, Jack.  (19  )  ‘On the Use and Abuse of Folk and Fairy Tales with Children.’  in BREAKING THE MAGIC SPELL: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales.  H/O London: Heinemann.

Zipes, Jack. (1986)  ‘Fairy Tale as Myth  Myth as Fairy Tale.’  in  THE BROTHERS GRIMM:  FROM ENCHANTED FORESTS TO THE MODERN WORLD.  New York  & London: Routledge.

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FAIRY STORIES – THE HAPPY ENDING


Angela Carter claimed that heroic optimism was an important element in fairy stories, the principle which sustained the idea of a happy ending whatever the odds.  The ability of the hero/heroine (protagonist) to remain hopeful while enduring their respective trials and torments impels the reader to continue to hope that the inevitable resolution will be a happy one.  In most fairy-tales the happy ending is an essential consequence of the journey, actual and physical, of the protagonist through the tale.  Natalie Babbitt defined ‘The Happy Ending’ as:

something which goes much deeper [than a simple ‘happily ever after’], something which turns a story ultimately toward hope rather than resignation…” (Babbitt in Haviland, (1973) p. 158)

As a result of this hope, Babbitt said that

Wilbur can escape an early death, Cinderella can be Queen, Bilbo can outwit the dragon, and the ugly duckling can become a swan.  Not without pain, not without violence, not without grief; but in the end, somehow, everything will always by all right.” (Ibid, p. 159)

Apart from a few exceptional tales, the storyteller’s audience (usually young girls), and the text’s readers, are able to anticipate, while enduring the hardships as the protagonist goes through them, the resolution of these difficulties in a positive and happy way – in other words a consolation, for all participants, for the rigours thus endured.  Tolkien refers to:

[this] consolation of fairy stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe [eucatastrophe], the sudden joyous ‘turn’ … this joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially ‘escapist’ or fugitive’.  In its fairy-tale – or otherworld-setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur.  It does not deny the existence of the dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of joy, joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief. (Tolkien, (1964) p. 60; (1992) p. 175)

The notion that “this joy is not essentially ‘escapist’ or ‘fugitive’ “ leads us back to his idea that the world of ‘faerie’ is ‘otherworld’, or of a secondary world of the author’s devising.  The fact that the reader suspends belief in the real world to enter this secondary world does not mean that he/she is running away from the former.  After all, upon reaching the conclusion (hopeful happy ending) of the ‘otherworld’ story, the real world must be re-entered.  The fact that the reader does so, armed with hope and joy, is a bonus, an advantage for him/her to help deal with the problems encountered there.  As Tolkien was a highly religious man, he saw this joy linked to the joy of holy miracles, of faith and belief in the after-life, and the joy he believed would be the reward when finally united with God in Heaven – thus his use of the word ‘evangelium’.

Tolkien added:

It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give the child or man that hears it, when the ‘turn’ comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality. (Tolkien, (1992) p. 175 – 176)

I have personally experienced this ‘turn’ when reading Tolkien’s own works – a little for THE HOBBIT but many times, very strongly for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.  It is a tangible ‘turn’, which no doubt young readers of fairy-tales would experience.  My belief that Tolkien is the ultimate authority on fairy-stories was backed up by my research – most reference material I studied quoted the above statement by Tolkien, in part or in full, to illustrate and support their particular theories.

In my selected fairy tales: DONKEY-SKIN (H/O), THE SIX SWANS (H/O), and PRINCE AMILEC (Zipes, pp 48 – 54), there was a point in each story when a joyous ‘turn’ of events occurred – when the story moved from trials and sorrow to happiness and reward for the protagonists.

In DONKEY SKIN, by Perrault, the princess first had to go through the sorrow of leaving her home to escape the incestuous attentions of her father; the trials of  wearing the donkey-skin and toiling as a scullion in the kitchen of a farmhouse; and the derision and harassment from the servants; before being eligible for the joy and glory of winning her prince.  Of course she required the assistance of her fairy godmother to achieve her escape from home, and the acquisition, not only of the three beautiful gowns (the colour of the sky, the moon, and the sun), but also of the donkey-skin, with which she disguised herself.

Throughout her trials Donkey-Skin did not give up hope of deliverance from her menial situation.  This was evident by her ritual cleansing and dressing in her gowns on Sundays, and when having seen the prince from a distance

[she] admired him with a tender look.  Thanks to her courage, she realized that she still had the heart of a princess beneath her dirt and rags. ( Ibid, p. 71)

This equates with heroic oprimism – appearing to propel the tale towards its happy ending.

I believe that there were several places in the text where the joyous ‘turn’ of events occurred.  The first was when the prince saw Donkey-Skin, dressed in all her finery, through the key-hole.

[T]he prince kept peeking at her, scarcely breathing because he was filled with such pleasure. …. Three times he was on the verge of entering her room because of the ardor that over-whelmed him, but three times he refrained out of respect for the seemingly divine creature he was beholding. (Zipes, (1989) p. 71)

While this was a joyous event for the prince, the reader knows that it was also a turning point in the tale for Donkey-Skin.  The next joyous event occurred when Donkey-Skin put the ring on her finger, dressed in her finest gown, and entered the court.  Once again the tale focussed on her beautiful gown, her physical beauty and her majestic bearing, and on the reactions of the courtisans, King, Queen and prince rather than on the princess’s happiness (which the reader is left to assume).  Finally, at the wedding, the bride’s father,

who had purified the criminal and odious fires that had ignited his spirit in the past, [and] the flame that was left in his soul had been transformed into devoted paternal love, (Ibid, p. 74)

also had a joyous moment when reunited with his daughter.  “Weeping with joy, he embraced her tenderly.” (Ibid, p. 74)  Once again everyone shared his moment, even the fairy godmother, who “told the entire story … [which] culminated in Donkey-Skin’s glory.” (Ibid, p. 74)  However, I believe that Perrault deflated the joy of the happy ending by his over-abundance of moralizing.

In THE SIX SWANS, by the Grimm brothers, the sister of the swan-brothers undertook a difficult task in order to free them from their step-mother’s spell.  Her brothers told her that, to achieve this:

For six years you may neither speak nor laugh, and in that time you must sew together six little shirts of starwort for us.  If one single word falls from your lips, all your work will be lost. (Grimm, (1975) p. 234)

It was considered a trial indeed for a female (that loquacious creature) not to speak or laugh.  It also meant that Donkey-Skin had no means of either explaining her identity to the King, or defending herself against the false accusations of her mother-in-law.  She suffered sorrow at the separation from her father and her brothers, and grief at the loss of her babies.  Our hope is kept alive by the King’s defence of his wife:

She is too pious and good to do anything of that kind; if she were not dumb, and could defend herself, her innocence would come to light. (Ibid, p. 236)

But it is dashed again when even he had to deliver her to justice, after the disappearance of the third baby.

In this tale we are given concrete evidence of her joy, the ‘turn’ occurring as she stood at the stake with the shirts over her arm.

S]he looked around and six swans came flying through the air towards her.  Then she saw that her deliverance was near, and her heart leapt with joy.” (Ibid, p. 236)

The reader moves with her from this point onwards as she freed her brothers, who embraced her, then finally was able ot speak for herself.  Her children were returned to her, the wicked mother-in-law was punished, and the happy ending was completed with the final sentence:

[T]he King and Queen with her six brothers lived many years in happiness and peace.” (Ibid, p. 237)

In  PRINCE AMILEC by Tanith Lee, it was the hero, Amilec, who had to undertake difficult tasks in order to win his chosen princess.  From the outset the character of this princess is exposed to the reader, but not to Amilec, who fell in love with her portrait.  He was blind to her rudeness, to the page’s warning that she was frightful and that he should go home, and was determined to attempt the tasks no matter how impossible they seemed.  However, upon succeeding to fulfill them, with the aid of a pretty witch and her bat, Basil, encountered not the princess’s love and gratitude, but a royal tantrum.

The reader has recognized almost immediately that the witch is far more suitable a bride for Amilec, and must wait in frustration until the ‘turn’ occurs, when he will realize this for himself.  Hope is raised when the princess demanded a wedding dress:

By this time Amilec was getting a bit fed up with her tantrums, but he thought that, of all her demands, this was the most reasonable.  ( Zipes, (1986) p. 53)

When the witch delivered the dress, wearing it to display its beauty, he was stunned – ‘the scales fell from his eyes’.  In front of the court he declared:

“How can I have been so blind!  You are the most beautiful girl I have ever met.  You are also the kindest.  May I humbly ask you to be my wife?  I promise to look after Basil, and I’ll live in the cave, if it will make things easier.”  (Ibid, p. 54)

To say that the hero was optomistic in this tale would be untrue.  However, he was determined, in the face of seemingly impossible odds, to persist till the end.  Having formed an alliance with the witch, who completed his task for him, he was able to face each subsequent task more hopefully, looking after Basil and collecting seaweed while she did so.  Thus, the hope of the happy ending was sustained throughout the tale.

The joy of the happy ending is not as remote from the reader in this tale, due to the involvement of that reader throughout the tale.  Not only did Amilec and the witch live happily ever after, but the princess was happily allowed to travel, leading the story to begin its cycle once again.  The reader knows that she also will suceed, if the tale follows it pattern truly.

In conclusion, I reiterate that the hope held by the protagonist of the tale, prepares the way for the happy ending, and is an essential component of the fairy tale, whether the trials be insignificant or enormous.  Tales that have no joyous ‘turn’, no happy ending, are unsatisfying, providing no consolation for the reader.  As Tolkien said, in his ‘Epilogue’ to ON FAIRY-STORIES:

The peculiar quality of the ‘joy’ in successful Fantasy [fairy-stories] can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.  It is not only a ‘consolation’ for the sorrow of this world, but  a satisfaction, an answer to [that truth].” (Tolkien, (1992) p. 178)

(C) Jud House  28/08/2005

TRADITIONAL LITERATURE: BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Babbitt, N. (1970)  “Happy Endings?  Of Course, and Also Joy.’  in Haviland, V. Editor 1973)  CHILDREN  AND LITERATURE  Views and Reviews.  London:  The Bodley Head Ltd.

Buchan, J. (1931)  ‘The Novel and the Fairy Tale’.  in Haviland, V. Editor (1973)CHILDREN AND LITERATURE  Views and Reviews.  London:  The Bodley Head Ltd.

Butler, F. Editor. (1975)  CHILDREN’S LITERATURE VOL 4.  Philadelphia:  Temple  University Press.

Gilbert, R. (1990)  ‘Endings’  in  MEANJIN  Vol. 49 (1990)

Haviland, V.  Editor. (1973)   ‘Folk Literature and Fantasy’  in  CHILDREN AND LITERATURE  Views and Reviews.  London:  The Bodley Head Ltd.

Le Guin, Ursula. (19   )  ‘This Fear of Dragons’  in  THE THORNY PARADISE: Writers on Writing for Children.  Blishen, E. Editor.  Harmondsworth, UK: Kestrel Books

Lewis, C.S.  (1952)  ‘On Three Ways of Writing for Children.’  in  BOURNEMOUTH CONFERENCE PAPERS AND DISCUSSION.  Library Association Proceedings.

Liberman, Anatoly. (1985)  ‘Between Myth and the Wondertale.’  in  MYTH IN LITERA-TURE. Kodjak, A., Pomorska, K., Rudy,S. Editors.  Columbia, Ohio: Slavica Publishers Inc.

Kegan, Paul  Editor.  (1975)  ‘The Six Swans.’  from  THE COMPLETE GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES.  London:  Routledge. (H/O)

Perrault, Charles. ‘Donkey-Skin.’  from Zipes, J. Editor (1989) BEAUTIES, BEASTS AND ENCHANTMENT.  Meridian:  Penguin.

Philip, Neil. (1989)  THE CINDERELLA STORY; The Origins and Variations of the Story known as Cinderella.   Penguin Books Ltd.

Shavit, Z. (1986)  ‘The Notion of Childhood and Texts for the Child.’  in  POETICS OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE.  Athens & London: University of Georgia Press.

Tolkien, J.R.R.  (1964)  ON FAIRY-STORIES.  in  POEMS AND STORIES.  Williamson  F.R. & Tolkien C.R. Editors.  London:  Harper Collins Publishers (1992)

Yolen, Jane. Editor. (1986)  FAVOURITE FOLKTALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD.  Pantheon.

Zipes, Jack. Editor. (1993)  DON’T BET ON THE PRINCE; Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England.  U.K.: Scolar Press

Zipes, Jack. (1983)  FAIRY TALES AND THE ART OF SUBVERSION.  London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd.

Zipes, Jack.  (19  )  ‘On the Use and Abuse of Folk and Fairy Tales with Children.’  in BREAKING THE MAGIC SPELL: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales.  H/O London: Heinemann.

Zipes, Jack. (1986)  ‘Fairy Tale as Myth  Myth as Fairy Tale.’  in  THE BROTHERS GRIMM:  FROM ENCHANTED FORESTS TO THE MODERN WORLD.  New York  & London: Routledge.

* * * * *

PSYCHOANALYTIC LITERARY CRITICISM – Jane Eyre


In literature Psychoanalysis deals with the psycho-sexual, the unconscious instinctual tendencies (id) of both writers and their characters, the recognition of the repressed desires, the dreams, and the uncanny relating to them, and the use of the language of nature to symbolise these emotive traits.  Marxism is concerned with the socio-economic backgrounds and references, and the ideological influences on the writers and their characters within the texts.  Both theories are concerned with the relevant experiences of the readers through which they interpret the texts.

According to Selden Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism began with Sigmund Freud’s view that:

the relationship between author and text [was] analogous to dreamers and their ‘text’ (literature = ‘fantasy’); [was] modified by Post-Freudians . . . in a psychoanalytic reader-response criticism . . . ; contested by Karl Yung’s ‘archetypal’ criticism [where] . . . the literary work is . . . a representation of the relationship between the personal and the collective unconscious, the images, myths, symbols, ‘archetypes’ of past cultures; [and recently] . . . .remodelled in the context of poststructuralism by . . . Jacques Lacan and his followers [with] . . .the coupling of a dynamic notion of ‘desire’ with a model of structural linguistics.  Selden

(1993, pp. 136 & 137)

According to David Forgacs:

Marxism is a theory of economics, history, society and revolution . . . all Marxist theories of literature have a simple premise in common: that literature can only be properly understood within a larger framework of social reality. Forgacs, pp. 134 & 135)

He also believes that literature should not be treated or kept in isolation, divorced from society and history.  He adds:

For Marxists, social reality is not an indistinct background out of which literature emerges or into which it blends.  It has definite shape . . . found in history, . . . as a series of struggles between antagonistic social classes and the types of economic production they engage in.” (Forgacs, p 135)

Both Psychoanalysis and Marxism act as a nature/culture binary – ‘nature’ representing metaphorically the subconscious desires, the socially repressed elements of the characters’ natures – ‘culture’  comprising the social class structure, with its historical time-frame, and the revolutionary changes occurring as a result of the power relationships between the classes.

The concept of subject is not as straightforward as one would expect.  The subject syntactically is that which acts upon the object, while in literature is the topic/matter at the heart of the text.  The idea, ‘I think therefore I am’, “proposes a zero-degree picture of the subject: completely independent, completely unified.” (Saunders (1993) p. 99)  However, the completely unified subject can be seen to be environmentally and politically determined, while the notion of complete unity is undermined by the psychologically internal complexity of the subject.

Psychologically:

the subject is understood to be constituted by both conscious and unconscious desires and intentions: if you like, there is more to ‘I am’ than the controlled rationality of ‘I think’.  The result is a self which is not unified, but made up of competing factions[.] . . . . Freud’s own techniques of analysis of [the subject’s] dreams . . . goes beyond intention and unity, and looks instead at the fractured, the repressed, the displaced, and the unconsciously symbolic. (ibid, (1993) p. 100)

When the subject is seen through the eyes of Lacan and Kristeva, it is fractured and dispersed, “displaced by a post-modern economy of floating, disconnected desires and sensations.” (ibid, p. 100).

The concept of ‘subject’ can be seen not only in terms of ‘other (that which it is not), and ‘gaps/silences’ (that which is not explained), but also in terms of the psychoanalytical and the socio-economic/ideological.  The ‘subject’ of JANE EYRE (a Bildungsroman novel of formation) is Jane herself, and, as she is the narrator, we are able to see her life unfolding with the socio-economic influences, conscious thoughts, and unconscious desires contributing to her character development.

In the first chapter the distinction between Jane’s position and John Reed’s position in the household is graphically drawn – John is wealthy, arrogant, cruel, and selfish (the latter three being a result of the first), while Jane is poor, dependent (on the Reed family), ‘habitually obedient’ yet stirred to rebellion by the injustice of her treatment.  The Reed sisters are selfish indulged, and indifferent to Jane’s situation while resentful of her presence.  Mrs Reed is tyrannical, unfeeling, jealous (of Jane’s place in her late husband’s affections), and resentful of the burden of caring for Jane.

The upper class or Bourgeoisie, which the Reeds represent, are paradoxically shown to be uncharitable, unkind and unpleasant, yet because of the power they possess as a result of having affluence, as a desirable class to belong to and/or attain.  Jane’s portrayal of others of the same privileged class is on the whole equally unflattering.  Brocklehurst is depicted as hypocritical (has a puritanical expectation of how POOR young girls should behave and dress, while his own daughters are permitted to dress frivolously and behave ill-manneredly), stern, cold and uncharitable (witness the burnt porridge episode).  The Ingram family are haughty, overbearing, caught up in their own esteem, and once again ill-mannered.  Even Rochester Jane shows to be selfish, overbearing, arrogant and oblivious to those beneath him unless directly affected by them.

Jane, however, has virtually no status – she is ‘less than a servant’ in the eyes of all, including the servants.  By birth she is the Reeds’ social equal, yet her impecunious state dis-empowers her.  Ideologically she must learn to conform, to control her passionate nature (repress the id), in order to attain her economic independence and subsequent rise through the class system, while refusing to allow her own victimisation.  By learning to say no to John Reed she learns the power “of resistance against oppression and . . . of self-confirmation, asserting the right to value her well-being above the demands made by others.” (Nestor, p. 51).

Various levels of class are portrayed by Jane – from the moneyed Bourgeoisie (property owners) like the Reeds, Brocklehurst, Rochester, Mr Oliver “the proprietor of a needle-factory and iron-foundry” (Bronte, (1976) p. 381); to the poor ‘gentry’ who needed to earn a living like Miss Temple, Mrs Fairfax, and Diana Mary and St. John Rivers; to the servant/working class people like Bessie, Abbot, Hannah, Grace Poole; and finally to the peasant class children in the Moreton School, whom Jane describes as “heavy-looking, gaping rustics”, “farmers’ daughters”, “rustic Scholars”, and at the end of her time there of “some half-dozen of my best scholars: as decent, respectable, modest, and well-informed young women as could be found in the ranks of the British peasantry.” (Bronte, (1976) pp. 392 & 416)

As well as these there are coachmen, inn-keepers, shop-keepers, gardeners, maids, doctors, teachers, clergymen and others, all adding to the fabric of the narrative.  There are a few historical references to the Industrial Revolution time-slot – to the potato-famine of Ireland: “burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself soon sickens over it.” (ibid p. 63) – and (as mentioned above) to the fact the Mr Oliver owned a needle factory and iron foundry.

There was also mention of another kind of class system – that of the older girls at Lowood dominating over the smaller younger girls: “whenever the famished great girls had an opportunity, they would coax or menace the little ones out of their portion.” (ibid, p. 77)

The psychological references and influences are abundant in JANE EYRE.  In first chapters the red and white pattern is established by “folds of scarlet drapery . . . to the right” (ibid, p 23) and to her left the “drear November day” (ibid, p. 24) through the clear glass panes of the protecting window.  This pattern is repeated in the red-room, with “[i]ts red drapery and carpet and contrasting white bed and easy chair embody[ing] two separate threats to Jane – a prison of passion and a chill, ‘pale throne’ of repression.” (Nestor, p. 51)  Thus red is symbolic of passion which Jane must learn to suppress if she is to mature, while the white is symbolic of a cold, sterile life void of that passion.

This idea of imprisonment is thus hinted at in the opening pages to be followed by the actual imprisonment in the red-room.  On escaping the confines of this room, then her nursery, and finally Gateshead itself, she finds herself in another confining, regimented location – Lowood school.  Having worked herself up to the semi-independent position of teacher, she leaves the institution to venture into  the wider world – only to find that at Thornfield she is surrounded by signs of enclosure.

As Jane enters its gates they ‘clash’ behind her, Mrs Fairfax locks the hall door and takes the key before showing Jane to her room, just as she later securely fastens the trapdoor from the attic, and in the library Jane discovers that most of the books are ‘locked up behind glass doors'(104)” (Nestor, p. 58)

The fact that Jane sought e sense of freedom on the third floor of Thornfield is ironic – it was the site of Bertha’s imprisonment.  Even when Jane runs away and enters the Rivers’ household she is bound by another form of entrapment – that of St John Rivers’ uncompromising expectations of and plans for her.  Her ultimate release is seen to be when she returns to Rochester as an equal, financially independent, and releases him from his confining restraints of blindness.

The dreams that Jane has throughout the book are also psychological windows to her mind, and premonitions of her future.  The carrying of the child, in the dream Jane had prior to her wedding day, is symbolic of the weight of domesticity which hung around the necks of Victorian women, tying them down and preventing them from being independent.  Her ally, nature, had taken over the ‘prison’ of Thornfield which was reduced to rubble – it could no longer contain her – and through its agent the wind, was blowing away the restricting child, leaving her free to fall into freedom.

The use of dreams as premonition devices in the narrative were also an indication of Bronte’s awareness of the uncanny.  Her:

figurative language is profoundly suggestive, privileging the imaginative and intuitive ahead of the rational.  Similarly her use of the supernatural reinforces the sense of know- ledge beyond logic, of truths that are felt as much as thought.  (Nestor, p. 31)

With this language she is able to suggest psychological links – hunger indicating deprivation, confinement signalling oppression and elements of nature offering a nurturing safety:

Nature seemed to me benign and good; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was: and I, who from man could anticipate only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial fondness.  Bronte, (1976) p. 349)

Finally the socio-economic position of the writer, “in an age shaken by religious, scientific and social upheaval” (Nestor, p. 30) where women were powerless, relegated to passivity, had an immediate bearing on the text.

Charlotte endorsed a fiercely individualistic self- sufficiency which placed the demands of society second to those of self, establishing a particularly important priority for women given the nature if Victorian’s demands upon them. (ibid, p.29)

Psychologically, Charlotte Bronte wrote in:

a distinctly female literary tradition . . . marked by images of enclosure and escape, fantasies in which maddened doubles function as asocial surrogates (as Bertha did for Jane) for docile selves, metaphors of physical discomfort manifested in frozen landscapes and fiery interiors and obsessive depictions of diseases like anorexia (of which Charlotte was suggested to have died from), claustrophobia and myopia.” (Nestor, p. 27) (my parentheses)

There are many more indications of the socio-economic and psychological practices at work on the subject in JANE EYRE.  Those I have shown give an insight into the text that a superficial reading may gloss over.

(C)  Jud House 28/08/2005

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Althusser, Louis. (1970) extract from IDEOLOGY AND IDEOLOGICAL STATE APPARATUSES.

Althusser, Louis.  ‘Ideology Interpellates Individuals as Subjects’ from ‘Ideology and the State’ in LENIN AND PHILOSOPHY.

Bronte, Charlotte. (1976 ed.)  JANE EYRE.  London: Pan Books Ltd

Forgacs, David.  MARXIST LITERARY THEORIES.

King, Jeannette. (1986)  ‘Recent Critical Approaches’ in JANE EYRE. Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Kristeva, Julia. (1986) ‘A Question of Subjectivity – an Interview’ in WOMEN’S REVIEW, No 12.

Lane, Margaret. (1980)  THE DRUG-LIKE BRONTE DREAM.  London:  John Murray (Publishers) Ltd.

Marx, Karl.  from the ‘Preface’ to ‘A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’ in LITERATURE AND SOCIETY: MARXIST APPROACHES.

Nestor, Pauline. (1987)  Women Writers/CHARLOTTE BRONTE.  Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble Books.

Rhys, Jean. (1968)  WIDE SARGASSO SEA.  London: Penguin Books.

Saunders, Ian. (1993)  OPEN TEXTS, PARTIAL MAPS.  Nedlands: The University of Western Australia.

Selden, R. & Widdowson, P. (1993)  A Reader’s Guide to CONTEMPORARY LITERARY THEORY.  Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, of Simon & Schuster International Group.

Spivak, G. C. (1986)  ‘Marxist Discussion of WIDE SARGASSO SEA’ from ‘Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism.’ in RACE, WRITING, AND DIFFERENCE.  Chicago: UCP.

* * * * *

DECONSTRUCTION – Reconstruction Via Signifiers


According to many texts, deconstruction is more a practice than a theory.  The consensus of opinion appears to be that deconstruction is not the destruction of the text, rather the undoing and redoing or reconstruction via the signifiers.  These are no longer seen as a means of accessing the signifieds or context of the sound pattern or word(signifier), but as being interdependent on each other to offer:

an account of what is going on in a text – not by seeking out its meaning, or its component parts, or its systematic implications – but rather by marking off its relations to other texts, its contexts, its sub-texts. . . . It brings out what the text excludes by showing what it includes.  It highlights what remains indecidable and what operates as an indecid- able in the text itself. (Silverman, 1989, p. 4)

This ambiguity is fostered and manipulated in a deconstructive reading as an exploratory means of finding multiple meanings in the text.  Often these readings are deliberately against the grain of the perhaps obviously intended meaning, resulting in some quite bizarre effects.  This unorthodox approach to the reading of texts is the ultimate aim of the deconstructionist – a freeing up, so that the reader is no longer constrained by the author’s meaning, nor that of those who would say that the text itself must be read in isolation, uninfluenced by the reader’s experiences.

Deconstruction seems to consist of a compilation and manipulation of various and prior theories (of New Criticism, and Structuralism).  As a reader, I had to wade through a morass of confusing literary jargon to try to reach the firm ground of enlightenment, only to find that it consisted of quicksand.  One of the main features of deconstruction is a lack of a transcendental signified – for any signifier there is no fixed meaning.  Rather there is a chain of floating-signifier/sliding-signified links with no clasp of closure.

[S]ays Derrida, all . . . analyses imply that they are based on some secure ground, a ‘centre’ or ‘transcendental signified’, that is outside the system under investigation and guarantees its intelligibility.  There is, however, no such secure ground, according to Derrida. . . . [D]econstructive criticism aims to show that any text inevitably undermines its own claim to have a determinate meaning, and licences the reader to produce his own mean-ings out of it by an activity of semantic ‘freeplay’. (Culler, (1983) from Derrida extract).

In deconstruction there is a concentration on binary oppositions and their privileging, and a no-rules approach to the content and context of the text.  It could also be called an attitude to text-reading rather than a method of criticism.

* * *

In BOY AT THE WINDOW by Richard Wilbur (Norton, (1983), p. 1222) a close reading sees the poem describe a boy looking sadly out of a window at a snowman in a gathering storm, and a snowman in his element looking sadly at the boy inside in the warmth.  An image is constructed of the snowman in the storm, through the use of lexical sets connoting a hostile environment – ‘dusk’, ‘cold’, ‘night’, ‘wind’, ‘moan’.  In the second verse there follows a lexical set connoting the friendly nature of the same environment – ‘content’, ‘element’ and non-threatening ‘frozen water’.  The narrative is a text constructed of sets of signifiers, which all interact in many different ways, according to the experiences of the reader.  For example, while an occupant of the Arctic Circle would have sound knowledge and experience of a snow-storm, an Australian desert Aboriginal would not. As a consequence, the degree of hostility of the stormy night would have less impact on the latter.

Also the multiple layers of words actively participate in the ways the reader generates meanings – even when these various layers are unknown consciously.  An example of this is the less obvious meaning of ‘bitumen’.  The Oxford English Dictionary gives, apart from that of asphalt, and tarred road, a definition of: “a kind of mineral pitch found in Palestine and Babylon” also known as “Jew’s Pitch”.  This additional signified for the signifier ‘bitumen’ immediately draws a link between the term ‘bitumen eyes’ and the lines:

. . . such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to  Paradise.
(Wilbur, ls. 7 & 8)

It adds another dimension to the already idol-like ‘figure’ which stands unmoving and staring as idols do, despite their environment.

Emotions are evoked by the use of emotional signifiers such as ‘weeps’, ‘tearful’, ‘no wish . . . to die’, ‘cry’, ‘trickle of . . . a tear’ and ‘surrounded by . . . such love’.  A careful use of sound patterns were used in this text to promote the hostile effect – examples being:

A night of gnashings and enormous moan (Wilbur, line 4)

An ambiguity is created by the use of the word ‘he’ in the second line – it could mean either the snowman or the boy.  If read without the knowledge of the title, the first two lines read as though it is the snowman who cannot bear the dusk and the cold.

The binary oppositions of warmth/cold immediately take hold, with the former being privileged in our minds.  In the first verse (as mentioned above) the signifiers of ‘dusk’, ‘cold’, ‘wind’, ‘night’, ‘gnashings’, and ‘moan’ jointly connote the negative aspect of being out in a storm in the snow.  So by their absence in the verse, the signifiers of the signified ‘warmth’ become the privileged or more valued term of the binary opposition.  However, the second verse reverses this privileging as the snowman is shown to be in his element, and that ‘inside’, ‘bright’, ‘love’, ‘warmth’, and ‘light’ hold nothing but ‘fear’ and death for him.  Thus cold becomes privileged over warmth.

Immediately there is an ambiguity – increased when the realisation is grasped of the reversability of the order of the two verses themselves.  As the poem stands the reader is left with the impression of uneasiness for the boy, safely in his warm home.  But if the first verse were the last the snowman would be the one to be pitied, the ‘outcast’.  There is no real feeling of a definite closure or opening to this text, so that the reader could easily enter it from either point.  Its title is its only anchor point, and even that is a little ambiguous at first – is the boy inside or outside the window?

While there are a number of binary oppositions at work in this text: nature/culture; light/dark; active/passive; content/sorrow and company/solitude; there is an overriding binary opposition of safety/peril.  We privilege the term safety as being the desirable state in which to exist.  But this poem questions our ideas of what is safe:

. . . the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love,
(Wilbur, lines 15 &
16)

by adding the ambiguous words, “. . . and so much fear” (ibid, line 16).  Fear for whom – the boy or the snowman?  And fear of what – the storm, the cold, or the warmth?  By discerning that to the snowman there is nothing to fear out in the storm, but melting will occur in the warmth of the (safe) house, our notions of what is secure is undermined.  The ‘peril’ of the storm and the cold is diffused, and is seen as desirable – for the snowman at least.  As our sympathies shift from the boy to the snowman, as we move from verse to verse, we are creating a reversal of privilege between the binaries of boy/snowman.  The view that without ‘peril’ there is no notion of or need for ‘safety’, and their reversal, without ‘safety’ would there be any ‘peril’, colours our reading of these oppositions.

The nature/culture binaries feature quite strongly within the text.  The usual privileging of nature over culture, of the natural over the man-made, is at once up-ended as the elements of nature are negatively described:

. . . to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
(Wilbur, ls. 3 &
4)

with the ‘bitumen eyes’ and ‘bright pane’ being the only man-made items shown – yet bitumen is a by-product of petroleum, a by-product of oil – a natural substance.  And ‘pane’ carries with it, not only the meaning of a panel of a window, but indeed a panel, a piece, a potion, a segment, a section, a length or a side of anthing – man-made or natural.  It also signifies a piece of cloth, a lap, a skirt, or any distinct portion of a garment – the man-making of a natural fibre.  Thus it represents both nature and culture.

There is a contradiction in the description of the eyes - ‘bitumen’ and stared’ connoting hardness in the first verse, yet ‘soft eye’ in the second verse.  The latter implies emotional softness, while the former the hardness of rejection, and of that of a craven image or pagan idol.  Here the binaries of solitude and company are introduced – solitude shown in the line “standing all alone” (Wilbur, line 1) and:

. . . such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to Paradise.
(ibid, ls. 7 & 8)

while company is indicated by its absence and inferred by the lines:

. . .  surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, . . .
(ibid, lines
15 & 16).

But the snowman’s ‘content’ with his ‘frozen . . . element” alters the privileging of the terms, so that the solitude of the snowman seems preferable to the boy’s position.

More than solitude is implied in the above indented quote – that of religion, of Godfearing/Godless, of Christian/Pagan binaries.  Standing out in a storm the snowman appears still as an idol, yet appears to stare with sorrow and yearning at the boy, giving the impression of an outcast.  But this is the opposite of the snowman’s reality, who is “. . . nonethless, content,” (ibid, line 9) and who can produce “A trickle of the purest rain, a tear” (ibid. line 14) as only a sin-free being could do.

Another paradox is the use of the words ‘go’,’still’, ‘moved’ and ‘see’ in the second verse; still and moved are contradictions as are still and go.  These terms are binary opposition signifiers for active/passive where the privileged term from the snowman’s point of view is passive.  The reality is that a snowman can neither see nor move, yet we accept both as being truths within the text.

The binaries of light/dark are present, with dark being the most evident, as light only appears in the last two lines of the text.  The privileging of light occurs by the negative use of dark in the first verse, then reverses to privilege dark in the second verse as the reader learns that the snowman is ‘content’ to be in the dark.  The final line, 16, creates a double reversal, flipping from a positive of light, to a negative with the final word, ‘fear’.  This is an example of both binaries operating simultaneously, positively and negatively.  The concept of ‘privatives’ occurs here –

We can describe the world in terms of the ‘absence’ of certain qualities.  Darkness is an absence of light; the iron is cold when it lacks heat; an object [the snowman] is still when it lacks movement. (Selden, (1989) p. 55)

So in lines 15 and 16 the ‘light’ is an absence of dark, the ‘warmth’ is an absence of cold, the ‘love’ is an absence of ‘hate’ and the ‘fear’ is an absence of ‘safety’.  This concept can be applied to virtually all the signifiers in the text, opening it to a floating interpretation.

Also the signifier/signified chain reveals the concept of ‘differance’:

One sign leads to another, different sign, but with each arrival we find not meaning, but its deferral. (Saunders, (1993) p. 22)

An example of this chain is seen when defining the word ‘alone’.  It means ‘not with others, without the help or company of others or other things; only, exclusively’.  This gives several more words to look up – an example is ‘only’ which gives such terms as sole, most worthy, but then, extreme, no longer ago than, as well as the idea of solitude.  If these words in turn were defined an increasing chain of meanings are formed.  Thus:

deconstruction sees openings, a chain of signifiers that offers movement from one signifier to the next, without ever settling on the one term (the ‘transcendental signified’) that would constitute bedrock. (ibid, (1993) p. 22)

While I no longer savour the poignancy of the narrative that my initial reading of the poem supplied, I nonetheless can still read it with enjoyment.  I have gained a more profound understanding of the text, with the subtle nuances, such as the ‘bitumen’ link to ‘Paradise’, creating an interesting interplay within it.  The text now seems to contain more, with the element of ambiguity creating uncertainties constantly.

(C) Jud House  28/08/2005

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Allison, Barrows, Blake, Carr, Eastman & English. (1983)  THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY Third Edition.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Barthes, Roland. (1957)  MYTHOLOGIES. (extract)

Buchbinder, David.  ‘Deconstruction in Practice’ from CONTEMPORARY LITERARY THEORY. (extract)

Derrida, Jacques. (1978)  ‘Structure, sign, and play …’ from Derrida J. WRITING AND DIFFERENCE. (extract) with Culler, J commentary.

Jefferson, Anne. (1982)  ‘Structuralism and Post-Structuralism’ from Jefferson & Robey, MODERN LITERARY THEORY: A COMPARATIVE INTRODUCTION.  London: B. T. Badsford.

King, Jeannette. (1986)  ‘Recent Critical Approaches’ in JANE EYRE. Milton Keynes:  Open University Press

Norris, C. (1982)  ‘Roots: Structuralism and New Criticism’ in DECONSTRUCTION: THEORY AND PRACTICE.  London & New York: Routledge.

Saunders, Ian. (1993)  OPEN TEXTS, PARTIAL MAPS.  Nedlands: The University of Western Australia.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. (1916)  COURSE IN GENERAL LINGUISTICS. (extract)

Selden, R. & Widdowson, P. (1993)  A Reader’s Guide to CONTEMPORARY LITERARY THEORY.  Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf, of Simon & Schuster International Group.

Selden, Raman. (1989)  ‘Binary Oppositions’ in PRACTISING THEORY AND READING LITERATURE.  Harvester

Selden, Raman. (1989)  ‘Deconstruction’ in PRACTISING THEORY AND READING LITERATURE.  Harvester.

Silverman, Hugh, J. (1989). ‘Introduction’ DERRIDA AND DECONSTRUCTION.  New York: Routledge. (extract)

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PICTURE STORY BOOKS – MULTI-LAYERED NARRATIVES


Picture story books give children the opportunity to experience multi-layered narrative, to read and write a text at the same time in that they can be entertained by a text on its simplest level as well as becoming engaged in the active pursuit of complex meanings.  Such books are saying: ”there is not one story one voice here, but many”.

* * *

The experiencing of multi-layered narrative in any book, fictional, non-fictional or pictorial, comes under the umbrella of post- modernism.  Geoff Moss writes:

Broadly speaking, postmodernism pictures a subjective, relativistic world which is …. perpetually in construction, perpetually contradictory, perpetually open to change. (Moss, 1992, pp. 54-55)

Texts may be written with several narratorial voices, giving different perspectives, points-of-view – “not one story one voice … but many”.  There may be many different stories told within the one book, or gaps left in the text for the reader to fill in as they think appropriate – “becoming engaged in the active pursuit of complex meanings”.

In children’s picture books this can take the form of pictures that do not match the text, pictures without any text at all, or pictures that give more details to the story than the text gives – children “read and write a text at the same time in that they can be entertained by a text on its simplest level”.  This applies equally to children who cannot read, to whom the story is read, as well as to those who can.  All gather information from the pictures accompanying the text, according to their understanding, to their perceptions.  According to D Lewis:

we attend to and ‘read’ both pictures and words.  They act upon each other so that … we read the pictures through the words and the words through the pictures…. This … interaction between word and image in the picture book is [a] … reason for the form’s extraordinary openness and flexibility. (Lewis, 1990, p.141-142)

Come away from the water, Shirley by J Burningham is a good example of a postmodern children’s picture book.  The book is divided into two different narratives told on opposing pages – the parents’ dull world on one, facing Shirley’s exciting imaginary world on the other.  The illustrations are contrasting in style – box-framed, pale-tinted, line drawings with little background for the parents; and boldly colourful, detailed pictures for Shirley – thus underlining the difference between the two.

The cover and the title page, with map in between, give an indication of the type of story about to be experienced – that of a little girl’s pirate adventure with her dog.  The opening story page shows, in a white-bordered picture, the mother, father and an eager Shirley (shown running happily) crossing the shingles beside a groin wall, with a dog following and presumably with them.  The parents are laden with adult beach paraphernalia, while Shirley is unencumbered.  The text already sets the tone of what is to follow – a negative re swimming for Shirley, usually top on most children’s list for beach fun.  When the page is turned the reader sees that that bordered, first page illustration belongs to the adult narrative.

The next and succeeding pages show the parents sketchily illustrated and always confined by a line-border on the left hand page, while Shirley and the dog, with various props and imaginary people, are on the right hand, framed by a fuzzy-edged white border.  This form of bordering the pictures indicates to the reader that in Shirley’s fantasy world there is more freedom.

The adult world is boxed in with constraints, which the text in the form of a continuing dialogue endorses.  A subversive feature of this dialogue is the lack of periods at the end of each sentence (until the final page), creating the impression of a continual stream of negative directives issued by her mother to Shirley as to how she should play.  Many pages contain the word “don’t”.  Meanwhile, the parents, their faces registering mild contentment, do boring adult things – put their chairs up, fill and smoke a pipe, read a paper, knit, pour coffee from a thermos, sleep, then wake and leave.

There is not much to hold a child’s attention on the parents’ pages – mundane events with little detail to look at equates with little interest.  On the opposite pages, Shirley embarks on a sea voyage with the dog, which during the course of the parents’ text we learn does not belong to her: “Don’t stroke that dog, Shirley, you don’t know where he’s been”. (Burningham, 1977, p.8)  Not only are the pictures bright and eventful, but they lack an obstructing text, thus allowing the readers to invent their own story – that is, write their own text – from the pictorial details provided.

During the ‘real’ time it took her mother to get out the thermos flask, pour coffee, hand it to her husband, and return the flask to the basket, Shirley spent hours in her ‘fantasy’ time: walking the plank, fighting and defeating the pirates, diving from the ship with the pirate flag and treasure map, reading the map while sailing with the dog in her boat rigged with pirate flag sails.  ‘Time’ is shown by the gradual setting of the sun in the consecutive illustrations, and makes perfect sense to a child who would see no disparity with the ‘time’ depicted by her mother’s actions on the parents’ pages.  While it races for adults, time drags for children.

In the parents’ pages, adults are represented as inattentive, overprotective, nagging and boring, while Shirley is created as a child in need of guidance by the mother’s commentary.  In Shirley’s pages adults are represented in pirate guise as violent, bullying, then inept, while she is portrayed as brave, resourceful, empowered (by the crown she finds in the treasure chest), and independent.  Bradford remarks:

the indeterminacy to which David Lewis refers, the gap between the two sequences … articulates and enacts the gap between Shirley’s world and that of her parents. (Bradford, 1994, p. 206)

In the penultimate pages the text on the left finally aligns with the picture on the right – the mother wakes the father:

“Good heavens!  Just look at the time.  We are going to be late if we don’t hurry.” (Burningham, 1977, p. 20)

On the right hand page, Shirley and the dog are seen travelling at night with a rising moon back towards the beach.  The blackness of the night sky gives a sense of urgency to the picture – children should not be out alone after dark.

The final full-page unbordered illustration sees Shirley firmly implanted in the adult world again, reluctantly leaving the beach dragging on the end of her mother’s arm.  There is no sign of her companion, the dog.  The story has returned to the one voice, the united story of Shirley and her parents.  In between coming to the beach and leaving it, there existed for Shirley, and for the reader, an escape from the boring ‘real’ world of parents.  If she could do it there at the beach, maybe she could take her fantasy life home with her, as indicated by the lack of confining border – “the child’s imagination [is] a powerful defense against the adult world.” (Bradford, 1994, p. 206)

There are a number of complex meanings underlying the text.  A subversive commentary on gender roles expressed via the illustrations, but not the text, is one.  Usually pirate adventures belong in the realm of boys, but here the protagonist is a girl who is just as brave and resourceful as any boy would be.  As blond-haired Shirley approaches the pirate ship, rowing the dinghy expertly, the male pirates spill over the sides waving their cutlasses threateningly.  The figurehead on the prow of their vessel is a stereotypical mermaid – naked to the waist with long blond hair.   Initially overpowered, Shirley walks the plank as a defeated female, but when rescued by the dog, turns the tables on the pirates and, like a boy would, wins the treasure map.

An important submerged meaning, I think, is that children can entertain themselves using their imagination if given the chance to do so.  They don’t necessarily need to be directed in play, monitored every waking minute of their day.  A good example is the picture of Shirley and the dog with the treasure chest (Burningham, 1977, p. 19) – the colours are ‘happy’ ones, pinks, mauves and yellows, and Shirley smiles with pleasure in her achievement – treasure can be found in the form of fun and self-entertainment if children will just use their imaginations.

Another example of a postmodern children’s picture book is My Place by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, aimed at a primary school age audience. Initially a history of a house in a street recorded backwards through the decades, it speaks with many voices of many races, recording not only the geographical changes but also the sociological ones.

A history book with a small ‘h’, the authors challenge ‘what’ is history, and ‘who’ is important in history – ordinary people rather than important political figures, marginalized people such as women, convicts, aborigines, ethnic groups, all given a voice in this book. Often with its sources as oral histories, rather than documentary, it breaks boundaries, and challenges the expectations of a History book. Most Australian history books start in 1788, written by white people about events seen from the white perspective.  This book goes beyond that, with its multiple points-of-view reflecting the  multicultural mix that is Australia.

Metafiction, an aspect of postmodernism, continually reminds the reader that texts represent life, that they are books. My Place may be a metahistory as at all times the reader is aware that the historical narrative is contained in book-form.  Refusing to be categorized, it may even fit into biography/fiction.  It is also a book that the reader can return to frequently to find details they missed previously, a thing children tend to do regularly – reread their favourite books gaining insight with each reading.

Comprising a text, with dates instead of page numbers, its complementary random illustrations frequently overflow their partial borders, giving an openness to the text plus additional information about the location and its occupants.  Geoff Moss writes that

because the picture book is a series of frames, materially marked by borders or page edges, and the portrayal of character or landscape is necessarily fragmented, it follows that each picture relates to a different subject position; each picture gives a new viewpoint. (Moss, 1992, p.63)

This is particularly true of My Place.  The history appears to be straightforward, until the map is scanned in detail.  The complexity and multiplicity of the history then becomes apparent as the reader focusses on the tree, the big house, the Millers/Mullers, the brickpits, the canal/creek, the drink factory, the pub and so on.

“In active pursuit of complex meanings” the reader flips back and forth from decade to decade in an attempt to place each separate place and family in the previous and following time-slot. The Aboriginal flag barred behind the window frame in the first page, 1988, is reflected in the final double-page landscape; the Aboriginal lifestyle in 1788, was vastly different from their lifestyle in 1988 (posing the question: is it better now?) – details obtained by interaction between the reader and book.

Moving in a circle there were aboriginal dwellers at the beginning and at the end of the book – but which is which?  Another boundary-breaking facet of postmodern texts is that they can be picked up and read from the middle outwards, from front to back, and from back to front, still forming an overall whole – subverting the way books are usually read.  This book does just that.  By writing from 1988 to 1788, backwards through time, is the book itself written back to front? Chronologically the decades run from the back of the book to the front, posing the question: is the back the front?

The multi-cultural nature of the occupants, not only of the house, but of the street, also provides a variety of narratorial voices.  Moving backwards, the families in residence were Aboriginal; Greek; Irish; Australian; German, with Chinese gardeners; American; English aristocracy, servants and convicts, and finally Aboriginal.  Many nationalities have many stories to tell, from their cultural viewpoints.

The revelation of the change in life-styles from the progressive 1988’s back through the two centuries to the more simple and less polluted times is quite ironic.  It questions what ‘progressive’ really means.  Are times better now with our technology, scientific knowledge, supposed social tolerance, and pollution problem, or were they better for the land when there were less people, less development and harder times socially and economically for the population?  This irony makes children, the book’s primary audience, aware that there is more than one way of looking at their world, and that “there is not one story one voice here, but many”.

(C)  Jud House   2/09/1997

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bradford, Clare. ‘”Along the road to learn”: Children and adults in the picture books of John Burningham’, Children’s literature in education V25(4) 1994, pp. 203-211.

Burningham, J.(1977) Come away from the water,Shirley  London: Red Fox Books

Lewis, D. ‘The constructedness of texts: Picture books and the metafictive’  Signal Vol 62, May 1990, pp.131-146.

Moss, G. (1992) ‘Metafiction, illustration and the poetics of children’s literature’ in Hunt (ed.) Literature for children: contemporary criticism.  London: Routledge.

Wheatley, N. & Rawlins, D. (1987)  My Place  Melbourne: Collins Dove

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

Bradford, Clare. ‘The changing picture book’ in Magpies v.5(5) Nov. 1990, pp.5-8.

Bradford, Clare. ‘The picture book: Some postmodern tensions’ in Papers: Explor- ations into children’s literature  v.4(3) 1993, pp.10-14.

Grieve, Ann. ‘Postmodernism in picture books’ in Papers: Explorations into children’s literature  v.4(3) 1993, pp.15-25.

Moseley, A. (1988)  ‘The journey through the “space in the text” to Where the wild things are’ in Children’s literature in education  Vol 19, No 2.

Nodelman, R. (1988) ‘Pictures, picture books and the implied viewer’ in Words about pictures: The narrative art of children’s picture books. Uni. of Georgia Press.

Rasmussen, B. (1987)  ‘Irony in picture books’  Orana  November 1987.

Richard, O. & MacGann, D.  ‘Audacious books and liberal education: The art of John Burningham’   WilsonLibrary Bulletin, May 1994, pp. 26-31.

Segal, Elizabeth (1981) ‘Picture books and princesses: The Feminist contribution’ Proceedings of the eighth annual conference of the Children’s Literature Association  in Ord, P. (ed.) University of Minnesota.

Sendak, M. (1977)  ‘The artist,as author: The strength of the double vision’  in Meek et al (eds.)  The cool web  pp. 241-256  London: Bodley Head.

Sorenson, M. (1993)  ‘The best job in the world’  A.B.R. No 154.

Stahl, J.D. (1990) “The theory and artistry of picture books’ in Children’s literature in Education. Vol 21, No 2.

Trites, R.  ‘Manifold Narratives: Metafiction and ideology in picture books’  Children’s literature in education  Vol 25(4), 1994, pp. 225-242.

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