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Hogwarts and All

Gothic Perspectives on Children’s Literature

Gregory G. Pepetone

Hogwarts and All explores modern children’s literature from its origins in the nineteenth-century cult of childhood, a cultural movement inseparable from Christian theology. From the Kunstmärchen (adult fairy tales) of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century German romanticism through Charles Dickens, J. R. R. Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling, this genre, like all gothic arts, has served as an alternative cultural perspective to that of scientific materialism. Its benignly subversive message is that a civilization that abandons its commitment to the childlike values of wonder, trust, sacrificial love, spontaneity, vulnerability, and faith in radical possibilities for peace, social justice, and human happiness – all qualities endorsed by Ray Bradbury, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L’Engle, and other authors discussed in this volume – is a civilization at risk.


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5 Rendering Unto Caesar: The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy 91


5 Rendering Unto Caesar: The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy English author Samuel Youd (a.k.a. John Christopher, Jonathan Christopher, Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols, and Anthony Rye, all literary pseudonyms) is perhaps best known for his Tripod Trilogy and its prequel (The Coming of the Tripods). The latter is a quartet of adolescent science fiction that recounts the subjugation of earth to a technologically advanced race of aliens who bestride the planet in walking machines reminiscent of those featured in H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Like the Tripod Trilogy, The Sword of the Spirits is a continuous science fiction narrative spread over three volumes. It tracks the political rise and fall of Luke Perry, son of a commoner who attains to the rank of noble- man, though at an inordinate cost to himself and others. John Christopher, the literary alias under which this trilogy is published, excels in portraying the inner life of his characters, i.e., their complex triumphs and tribulations, as well as the interior and interpersonal conflicts to which such complexities inevitably give rise. In this regard, his political gothic science fiction for younger readers illustrates the psychological gothic genre at its best. As with all first-rate gothic literature, however, the principal genres of the gothic imagination (supernatural and political as well as psychological) are merged into a compelling synthesis. Like the other cult-of-childhood stories discussed in this volume, the Sword of the Spirits trilogy is a meditation on the...

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