Kipling's Children's Literature: Language, Identity, and Constructions of Childhood, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Kipling's Children's Literature

Language, Identity, and Constructions of Childhood, 1st Edition

By Sue Walsh


186 pages

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Despite Kipling's popularity as an author and his standing as a politically controversial figure, much of his work has remained relatively unexamined due to its characterization as 'children's literature'. Sue Walsh challenges the apparently clear division between 'children's' and 'adult' literature, and poses important questions about how these strict categories have influenced critical work on Kipling and on literature in general. For example, why are some of Kipling's books viewed as children's literature, and what critical assumptions does this label produce? Why is it that Kim is viewed by critics as transcending attempts at categorization? Using Kipling as a case study, Walsh discusses texts such as Kim, The Jungle Books, the Just-So Stories, Puck of Pook's Hill, and Rewards and Fairies, re-evaluating earlier critical approaches and offering fresh readings of these relatively neglected works. In the process, she suggests new directions for postcolonial and childhood studies and interrogates the way biographical criticism on children's literature in particular has tended to supersede and obstruct other kinds of readings.


'This exciting study interrogates the concept of "children's literature", revealing the richness and ambiguity of Kipling's work in this genre. Sue Walsh challenges naive and simplistic assumptions about childhood, and reductive biographical approaches to children's literature. In doing so, she illuminates central issues of language, identity and interpretation.' Tess Cosslett, Lancaster University, UK ’There is far more to the analyses presented in this book that I have space to describe… [the book has] thought-provoking comments… It should also be required reading for most of the authors listed in the Bibliography.’ Kipling Journal '… a welcome addition to Kipling criticism as it challenges interpretations based solely on assumptions about the author’s views and feelings or the truthfulness of the stories, and shows that there may be other avenues worth exploring.' International Centre for Research in Children's Literature ’The intense focus on the relationship between Kipling’s words and his illustrations offers an invigorating topic for study. More specifically, Walsh’s responses to previous critics’ interpretation of this relationship analyse in depth tales from the Just So Stories which are not commonly afforded such attention. The particular emphasis she gives to the disparity between the aural/oral and written qualities of the tales will offer the reader a considered response to the tales. …Her familiarity with available secondary sources reinforces her main argument, bringing an additional depth to the monograph and accentuating that this work is indeed the culmination of many years of vigorous thought.’ English Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; on children's books and 'mature' stories; The child as colonized or the colonized as child?; Translating 'animal' or reading the 'other' in Kipling's 'Mowgli ' stories; A child speaking to children? Biographical readings; The oral and the written in the 'Taffy' stories; Becoming 'civilized': the child and the primitive; 'And it was so - just so - a long time ago'?: Kipling and history; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Sue Walsh is a lecturer in the Department of English and American Literature at the University of Reading, UK.

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature