Oxford University Press has recently published a book by Marah Gubar entitled Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children’s Literature, which traces a sustained Victorian ambivalence about the Romantic idea of childhood innocence.
From the Oxford website:
“In a series of attentive close readings of both famous and unjustly neglected texts, Gubar shows how such writers as Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and J. M. Barrie often resisted the growing cultural pressure to erect a strict barrier between child and adult, innocence and experience. Rather than urging young people to mold themselves to match a static archetype of artless simplicity, they conceived of children as precociously literate, highly socialized beings who-though indisputably shaped by the strictures of civilized life-could nevertheless cope with such influences in creative ways.”
Table of contents: