Monday, October 15, 2012
In the past year I've gone back and read some older children's books, and I've been struck by how strange they now seem. The magic that made them classics still absolutely remains, but it's striking how much sensibilities have changed.
If you read a thriller published in the '60s or most literary fiction published in the twentieth century, there are certainly elements that may seem dated, but it does not usually feel like a wholly different experience than reading something written today.
And yet I was struck by the very adult perspective in From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and the way A Wrinkle in Time starts slowly before veering into what I now think is a bit of a scattered plot by today's standards.
A few months back in The Atlantic, there was an interesting discussion about adults who re-read The Giver, not even a book that was written that long ago.
Is this just a matter of returning to books with adult perspectives, irreversibly influenced as we are by our experience and the way our outlook has changed? Is it a reflection of the maturation of a genre that is still relatively new compared to most adult genres? Is it the movie-influenced impeccable pacing that has come to dominate modern fiction?
Have you revisited a book you loved as a child and experienced it differently? What do you make of it?