|Classic Long John Silver- check out that parrot- he invented that.|
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Man the Victorians really delivered some children's lit hits. You read them today- I'm talking about Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll and the guy who wrote Water Babies- and the only reason you would consider them children's books is because the main characters are children. Otherwise, they Victorian versions bear about as much comparison to contemporary kids lit as their standards of hygiene compare to our standards of hygiene.
|Long John Silvers also... a restaurant.|
The whole idea of childhood in the Victorian period was waaaaaay different then the molly coddling that certain classes of children are subjected to today. First of all, Victorian children worked in factories for 16 hours a day. Victorian children were more like little, poorly educated adults. The tolerance for "childish" behavior was limited/non existent.
This is probably why Victorian children's lit is so great: because it doesn't condescend to the target Audience. Much of what we consider to be "Piratical" behavior and terminology comes directly from Treasure Island- Long John Silver the erstwhile cook/conspirator of Treasure Island fame is the pirate par excellance. When you watch a movie like Pirates of the Caribbean, you are talking about an idea that was essentially stolen from Treasure Island, which must have still been under copyright protection when Walt Disney was building the original ride.
The main difference for me between reading the so-called "Childrens Lit" of the 1880s vs. the "Adult" lit is that I actually enjoy the Childrens books. The adults- Russians aside are a tedious bunch and once I'm done with this survey I very much doubt I will ever return to Trollope, Eliot or Hardy ever again.