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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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2 Enantiodromia or Transcendence: The Walker’s Dark Journey 33

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2 Enantiodromia or Transcendence: The Walker’s Dark Journey Mythic Truth In The Dark Is Rising, volume one of a five book series, Susan Cooper draws upon one of the most enduring of British myths, the legend of King Arthur (as do Greenwitch, The Grey King, and Silver on the Tree). Set in rural England and Wales in the modern era, the cast of Cooper’s characters includes Merlin, Guinevere, and Arthur himself. It also features other legendary and quasi-mythical personalities such as the harp-playing Welch bard Taliesan and Owain Glyndwr, the Welch king who sought to unite his people against English domination under Henry Plantagenet. In the first volume of her four-part saga (from whose title the entire sequence takes its name) we are introduced to Will Stanton, on his eleventh birthday, along with his large family of five brothers (Robin, Max, James, Paul and an older, absent Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Stephen) and three sisters (Barbara, Gwen, and Mary). Will, seventh son of a seventh son, is the youngest member of his family. Mr. Stanton is a jeweler who works in a nearby town of Eton. They live on a rural Buckinghamshire farm not far from the village of Huntercombe bordering the Thames River. As the story opens, it is Midwinter’s Eve and strange events are afoot. The kitchen radio produces only static in Will’s presence and the farm animals, dogs and rabbits, cower at his approach. An ominous flock of rooks hover overhead, and as Will and James...

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