Our Mythical Childhood... The Classics and Literature for Children and Young Adults


Volume Editor:
This volume offers a survey of the reception of Classical Antiquity in the literature for youngsters by applying regional perspectives from East-Central and Western Europe, Africa, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States. The title Our Mythical Childhood hints at the elusive and paradoxical potential of the ancient tradition that is both a fixed base shared by many people worldwide since their early life as well as a body of references constantly being reinterpreted in response to local challenges. The reader is given a deeper insight into the processes shaping children’s and young adults’ identities and their cultural formation. The volume fills an important gap in the scholarship and contributes to the development of Reception Studies in innovative and attractive directions.
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Katarzyna Marciniak, Ph.D. (2004), is Professor at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales,” University of Warsaw, and Ambassador Scientist of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She has published monographs and papers both on Cicero and Classical Reception. She is an ERC Consolidator Grant laureate.

Contributors are: Jerzy Axer, Elena Ermolaeva, Valentina Garulli, Agata Grzybowska, Elizabeth Hale, Edith Hall, Owen Hodkinson, Katarzyna Jerzak, Joanna Kłos, Przemysław Kordos, Beata Kubiak Ho-Chi, Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, Helen Lovatt, Adam Łukaszewicz, Katarzyna Marciniak, Lisa Maurice, Barbara Milewska-Waźbińska, David Movrin, Sheila Murnaghan, Elżbieta Olechowska, Hanna Paulouskaya, Deborah H. Roberts, Ewa Rudnicka, Peter T. Simatei, Wilfried Stroh, Robert A. Sucharski, and Christine Walde.
"It [The book] has more than a few critically astute chapters and a number of hidden gems any humanist will appreciate, such as Łukaszewicz’s speculation on Vitalis the Fox as possibly representing Stalin, Maurice’s discussion of the evolving Israeli attitudes toward fantasy, or Hall’s reflections on our deep ambivalence about the nature of the child. Although the collection does not make any grand claims, it invites us to seek the connections we might have overlooked. If you have ever had the pleasure to talk about classical mythology with a young reader, you will appreciate the value of this book and the discussion it fosters." - Marek Oziewicz, in: Eos CIV 2017
"[T]he volume will be a convenient reference work for scholars of children’s and young adult literature (the latter being quite a burgeoning field of study now), and thus its appeal is likely to extend well beyond scholars in the field of Classics proper." - Nadya Williams, in: BMCR 2017.06.47

List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

What Is a Classic… for Children and Young Adults?
Katarzyna Marciniak

Part 1 - In Search of Our Roots: Classical References as a Shaper of Young Readers’ Identity
1 From Aesop to Asterix Latinus: A Survey of Latin Books for Children
Wilfried Stroh
2 Childhood Rhetorical Exercises of the Victor of Vienna
Barbara Milewska-Waźbińska
3 The Aftermath of Myth through the Lens of Walter Benjamin: Hermes in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and in Astrid Lindgren’s Karlson on the Roof
Katarzyna Jerzak
4 A Latin Lesson for Bad Boys, or: Kipling’s Tale of the Enchanted Bird
Jerzy Axer
5 Laura Orvieto and the Classical Heritage in Italy before the Second World War
Valentina Garulli
6 Saul Tchernichowsky’s Mythical Childhood: Homeric Allusions in the Idyll “Elka’s Wedding”
Agata Grzybowska
7 Jadwiga Żylińska’s Fabulous Antiquity
Robert A. Sucharski
8 A Child among the Ruins: Some Thoughts on Contemporary Modern Greek Literature for Children
Przemysław Kordos
9 The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Polish Lexicography for Children and Young Adults
Ewa Rudnicka

part 2 - The Aesop Complex: The Transformations of Fables in Response to Regional Challenges
10 Our Fabled Childhood: Reflections on the Unsuitability of Aesop to Children
Edith Hall
11 A Gloss on Perspectives for the Study of African Literature versus Greek and Oriental Traditions
Peter T. Simatei
12 Aesop’s Fables in Japanese Literature for Children: Classical Antiquity and Japan
Beata Kubiak Ho-Chi
13 Vitalis the Fox: Remarks on the Early Reading Experience of a Future Historian of Antiquity in Poland (1950s–1960s)
Adam Łukaszewicz
14 Aemulating Aesopus: Slovenian Fables and Fablers between Tradition and Innovation
David Movrin

part 3 - Daring the Darkness: Classical Antiquity as a Filter for Critical Experiences
15 Armies of Children: War and Peace, Ancient History and Myth in Children’s Books after World War One
Sheila Murnaghan and Deborah H. Roberts
16 Classical Antiquity in Children’s Literature in the Soviet Union
Elena Ermolaeva
17 Katabasis “Down Under” in the Novels of Margaret Mahy and Maurice Gee
Elizabeth Hale
18 ‘His Greek Materials’: Philip Pullman’s Use of Classical Mythology
Owen Hodkinson
19 Orpheus and Eurydice: Reception of a Classical Myth in International Children’s Literature
Bettina Kummerling-Meibauer

part 4 - New Hope: Classical References in the Mission of Preparing Children to Strive for a Better Future
20 Greek Mythology in Israeli Children’s Literature
Lisa Maurice
21 Telemachus in Jeans: Adam Bahdaj’s Reception of the Myth about Odysseus’s Son
Joanna Kłos
22 An Attempt on Theseus by Kir Bulychev: Travelling to Virtual Antiquity
Hanna Paulouskaya
23 Graeco-Roman Antiquity and Its Productive Appropriation: The Example of Harry Potter
Christine Walde
24 J.K. Rowling Exposes the World to Classical Antiquity
Elżbieta Olechowska
25 East, West, and Finding Yourself in Caroline Lawrence’s “Roman Mysteries”
Helen Lovatt
26 Create Your Own Mythology: Youngsters for Youngsters (and Oldsters) in Mythological Fan Fiction
Katarzyna Marciniak
Scholars and students interested in the reception of Classical Antiquity, as well a wider audience sensitive to the general appeal of the theme of childhood.
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