Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Well Said: Critics who treat adult as a term of approval

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
C.S. Lewis, On Three Ways of Writing for Children
Some self important ninny wrote a piece over at Slate advising everyone that we should read what we like but if we're reading books written for children then we should be embarrassed. I can just see her now, looking over her glasses at us in severe, professorial mode.

Two actual professors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, loved children's literature and I thank heavens they did since they wrote for us what they themselves enjoyed reading.

A life without The Hobbit. Or even without The Little Princess or Little House on the Prairie, which I occasionally reread. What sort of life is that anyway? It sounds pretty joyless to me.

Or do you think she secretly reads The Hobbit under her bedcovers with a flashlight so no one sees her?

Either way, I feel sorry for her. What a lot she's cutting out of her life by putting such broad restrictions on what she allows into her reading pile.

I've seen this mentioned all over but the most recent place is Redecorating Middle-earth in Early Lovecraft, where Amy H. Sturgis has a link to a wicked, tongue-in-cheek response.


  1. I totally agree with you! I read Little House series at 19. I read The Hobbit shortly after. I am about to read CS Lewis. I find great joy in reading children's literature

  2. Someone at the Huffiington Post wrote about how J.K. Rowling should stop writing and taking up space on the shelves- except for kids stuff, of course, because that's not real literature.

    As far as I'm concerned, a story is a story.