Innocence, experience and other childly songs in Max Porter's works

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This chapter is interested in the child characters of Max Porter’s writing, as well as, more widely, in the childly quality of his texts – their childness (to use the adjective and noun coined by Peter Hollindale). Childness in Porter’s texts is not just tagged to children. It is a fluid quality, transmissible across characters and to the reader; a quality that the novels continually strive to recover, notably through the means of imagery, rhythmicality and visual layout familiar to scholars of children’s poetry. There is great ambiguity in Porter’s poetic apprehension of childness. On one level, it is archetypal, ancient, intensely romantic in its deep connections to nature, magic, and a kind of prelapsarian innocence; and it is also steeped in folklore and fairy tales. But it also borrows from late twentieth-century discourses on the “death of childhood” or “toxic childhood”. Whatever happens, Porter’s writing about children is never cynical; and the mother, a central figure in his works, remains forever unsullied, the child-mother bond the pivot of his childly view of the word.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Perspectives on Max Porter
EditorsDavid Rudrum, Pawel Wojtas, Wojciech Drag
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781032662367
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2024

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