Fuse #8

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gory Allegory

You all read Read Roger, so none of this will be news to you. In the event that you read only one children's literature blog and it is this one, however, Roger recently had a truly fascinating point on his site. He was speaking with Betty Carter and she made the following statement:
"Have you noticed," she asked, "that most of the book debate this year has been about allegory?" and went on to mention The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Gossamer, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It's true that each of these titles has inspired strong reactions; also true that what's often being debated is "the lesson" of each story, both its nature and effectiveness. All stories have lessons, of course, but these three seem particularly fixed upon "the representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form," my digital AHD's definition of allegory.
Ms. Carter is one hundred percent correct. These titles have been some of the most hotly contested books of the year. Consider, for example, Cheryl's Klein's recent response to BISP(as The Boy In the Striped Pajamas shall hitherto be known) or the BISP article in the NYT. Think about the Tulane debacle on Roger's own blog. Of the three books, Gossamer has been the least hot a topic, and even then I've heard growls and mutters in tandem with its name.

Roger wonders if "there's something in the nature of allegory itself that prompts the strong response." I think that may be part of it. But perhaps when people feel that they are dealing with misplaced or ill-advised allegory their tempers rise all the faster. I daresay you could make a book out of this topic, should you be so inclined.


At 4:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to check out Lois Lowry's comments on the topic at her blog:


Loree Burns

At 6:21 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Wow! Great link. I had no idea she was a blog reader. I'm also glad to see that she hasn't been on the receiving end of any direct criticism. I liked her book and I like her, but I can see how some people may have a hard time with it.

Again, thank you so much for the link.


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