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[…] Where the children’s story is simply the right form for what the author has to say, then of course readers who want to hear that, will read the story or re-read it, at any age…I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.
But it is what the modern child wants.’ My other bit of evidence was this.
In my own first story I had described at length what I thought a rather fine high tea given by a hospitable faun to the little girl who was my heroine.
Lewis writes: 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.
This is the way of storytellers like Lewis Carroll and J. Nor, I suspect, would it be possible, thus face to face, to regale the child with things calculated to please it but regarded by yourself with indifference or contempt. In any personal relation the two participants modify each other.
You would become slightly different because you were talking to a child and the child would become slightly different because it was being talked to by an adult.They accuse us of arrested development because we have not lost a taste we had in childhood.But surely arrested development consists not in refusing to lose old things but in failing to add new things? Tolkien had memorably articulated the same sentiment seven decades earlier, in asserting that there is no such thing as writing “for children,” and Neil Gaiman eloquently echoed it in a recent interview. In the spring of 1952, Lewis delivered a magnificent and wonderfully dogma-defiant talk at the Library Association titled “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” eventually adapted into an essay and published in Lewis’s I think there are three ways in which those who write for children may approach their work; two good ways and one that is generally a bad way.I say ‘gadget’ because it was not a magic ring or hat or cloak or any such traditional matter.But I think no literature that children could read gives them less of a false impression.I think what profess to be realistic stories for children are far more likely to deceive them.The fantasies did not deceive me: the school stories did.All stories in which children have adventures and successes which are possible, in the sense that they do not break the laws of nature, but almost infinitely improbable, are in more danger than the fairy tales of raising false expectations… The dangerous fantasy is always superficially realistic.But Lewis’s most powerful point has less to do with the particular art-form of children’s literature and more to do with a broader cultural pathology.In discussing the fate of fantasy and fairy tales in society and in the hands of critics, he touches on our general tendency to treat adulthood as superior to childhood, a sort of existential upgrade, using childishness as a put-down and seeing immaturity as a negative quality.