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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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Acknowledgments vii

Extract

Acknowledgments I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the Reverend Canon C. K. Robertson for his encouragement, technical assistance, and theological expertise. Though my views on religion are naturally my own, his perspective on various disputed points of theology, as they relate to the cult of childhood, was invaluable. Thanks also to Heidi Burns without whose editorial skills and constructive criticism this project could not have been realized. I would also like to acknowledge the support, practical and otherwise, of my wife Betty whose own child-like radiance has so often dispelled her husband’s Gothic gloom. Finally, I owe a special debt of gratitude to Laurifer, an affectionate family portmanteau for the names of my two adult step- daughters, Laura and Jennifer. To them I am indebted for the now distant pleasure of having shared much of the literature discussed in this volume, a pleasure they reciprocated years later by introducing me to Harry and his friends. Beyond this personal frame of reference, there is, of course, another to whom I would trace a seemingly indestructible faith in humanity’s potential for the renewal of innocence celebrated by the Gothic imagination. On this Easter Sunday, 2011 it seems appropriate to discreetly but reverently acknowledge this otherworldly influence.

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