Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is not a world

"People write books for children and other people write about the books written for children but I don't think it's for the children at all. I think that all the people who worry so much about the children are really worrying about themselves, about keeping their world together and getting the children to help them do it, getting the children to agree that it is indeed a world. Each new generation of children has to be told: `This is a world, this is what one does, one lives like this.' Maybe our constant fear is that a generation of children will come along and say: `This is not a world, this is nothing, there's no way to live at all.'"

Russell Hoban, from Turtle Diary, ch 24 found via this site, which seems to be dedicated to seeding random Russell Hoban quotes into the world (!!) And I found that via Julia Lawrinson's blog.

I will write a more personal post later, in the meantime I wanted to stick this into the scrapbook that is my blog, for fear I would lose my way back to it.

13 comments:

Kirsty Murray said...

Hmmm... not sure about this quote. I don't write for children because I worry about them. I write for them and about them because I LIKE them, find them interesting and have stories I enjoy sharing with them. Although it's a long time ago, once, I was a child too (and inside I still feel like one) just like everyone else on the planet. I don't like this sort of Philosophising that objectifies children as if they are another species altogether. But I do like Russell Hoban's work very much. Maybe I just don't get the quote.

Penni said...

I must admit I posted this more as a parent than as a writer. It made me think of bubble-wrap parents for some reason, though reading it over I realise it doesn't quite apply. I do like this last comment, about children having to agree to the world we present them with, and the fear of what will happen to us if they don't. It rang true because I was reading the end of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit and the air in that book is very much that they are all agreeing to agree about the world, and yet there are increasingly loud dissenting voices as the novel progresses, and a very strong sense that all these other forces are about to erupt and bring everything crushing down.

It's interesting that Hoban wrote this when he is a children's writer himself. I wonder if he agreed with himself.

Kirti said...

Yes Penni it would seem it is one and the same Salvador!

Penthe said...

I write about children's books because I like children's books. Often better than the ones for adults. Perhaps I still need to be taught how to live in the world. *shrugs*

Penni said...

I like that Penthe! Perhaps children's book writers are the ones saying 'this is not a world."

Penthe said...

Yes, I would say that is so - particularly of the children's and YA books I particularly like. They make me notice the world and remember what it's like when you are a kid, and the world most particularly does not work. It's a disjointed and surreal place. Perhaps children's books do both jobs?

Penni said...

I think there's a PhD topic in that, I think good children and YA books take the world apart and put it back together again, but different.

Mike said...

Keep in mind that the speaker of the quote is a children's writer going through a period of painful depression. So she is testing her own reality a bit here.

Still, I do love the quote for what it says to adults and the role we might play introducing children to the world through books and stories. And for the way it challenges our view of the world.

In the movie writer Neaera Duncan is played by Glenda Jackson. A most formidable figure as a children's author. (And Nigel Hawthorn as a charming old school publisher.)

Penni said...

I love the power this invests in children as well - are children's writers a bit scared of their readers? That they will give the book back and say 'This is not a world, this is nothing.' I must admit I am a bit, when writing fantasy.

Penni said...

And it reminds me of the aburdism of teaching Fred animal noises when she was a baby, and thinking how unlikely cows and sheep must have seemed to her.

eleanor bloom said...

I liked this quote so much and how it got me thinking (about the realities people believe in, or want to believe in; how we change our beliefs from childhood to adulthood and whether or not this is a good thing; the impact of childrens books and fantasy novels; etc, etc) that I wrote a whole post on it, as my comment here started to get too darn long!
So thanks for the inspiration Penni. I enjoyed musing (even kept my post short by resisting all the tangents this quote led to)! :)


ps - is on my Bloom Lane blog... in case you look at my usual blog and conclude that i'm lying! ;)

Mark Lawrence said...

No indeed, we should not lose our ways back to it. Lovely, resonant, and challenging. Will you return to this snippet and your comments and run them into something longer, perhaps?

Somehow, it made me think of this: http://marklawrence.tumblr.com/post/77930457/lost-generation-via-metroamv-u-50-comp-entry-by

Quite amazing. And quietly amazing.

BTW, I'm enjoying your blog, Penni.

Captcha: 'inger'. Indeed.

Generic Viagra said...

I don't really agree with you. I mean, I don't write what I write because I care about my characters or my (possible) readers! I write simply because I do it and like it.
Period.