In the English-speaking world, the medieval concept of Cokaygne as a paradisiac landscape made of food is merely preserved as a part of American folklore, the «Big Rock Candy Mountain». This motif of food in abundance is recurrent in children’s literature, which is discussed here first of all from a psychoanalytic angle, arguing that the infant’s first contact with the world is established through food intake. In addition, a scarce diet as part of child-rearing in the 19
century and the rationing system during World War II triggered the fantasy in children and adults alike. Accordingly, the medieval land of plenty found a new place in the imagination of the Victorian and post-war child. Apart from the predominant theme of the consuming child, this book also links the notion of cannibalism to the imagined cornucopia of food in children’s literature, which is a frequent motif in many children’s books up to the 21
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2011. 121 pp., 2 fig.
Contents: The Myth of Cokaygne – Literary References – An Etymological Approach to ‘Cokaygne’ – The Carnivalesque – Historical
Background – Significant Elements of the Land of Plenty – Children and Food – A Psychoanalytical Approach – A History of Abstinence
– The Land of Cokaygne in Children’s Literature – The Domestic Cokaygne – Never-Ending Food Supply – The Land of Plenty –
Cokaygne Reversed: The Child as an Object of Indulgence – A Socio-historical Approach to Cannibalism – The Fear of Child-Eaters
– Wicked Witches – Gruesome Giants – The Starving Child in a World of Abundance.