A couple of weeks ago, I got a wonderful and unexpected gift: “The Prague Cemetery” by Umberto Eco. It was unexpected, because I had no idea that Eco had a new book out. With so many other things going on, literary news slips by too often. It was wonderful, because I love his books: they remind me of Old Europe that I miss so much sometimes and they are the kind of books that make reading very mentally-stimulating.
As it turns out, Umberto Eco is also a children’s book author. I recently came across “We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie”, a blog about children’s books by “adult” twentieth century authors. Did you know that James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, e e cummings, Eugene Ionesco or Toni Morrison all wrote books for children? Some, it seems, made them more fun than others (see the post about Virginia Woolf). The author of the blog, Ariel S. Winter, gives us a complete account on the background and meaning of many of the books he presents. Why? In his own words:
WHEN I FIRST STARTED WE TOO WERE CHILDREN, MR. BARRIE, one of the things I hoped to examine was the way in which an author accustomed to writing for adults conceived of writing for children. Why? Because, as many authors included on the blog have noted, childhood reading is often the reading that is most influential on a writer (or on any individual). Consequently, if a writer who is aware of the importance of childhood reading writes what he hopes will be an influential text for the next generation, how does what he includes in that text reveal what he thinks is most important to literature?
Take a look when you have a chance!