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The Peripheral Child in Nineteenth Century Literature and its Criticism
Publication Date September 2014
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Established accounts of the child in nineteenth century literature tend to focus on those who occupy a central position within narratives. The first part of this book is concerned with children who are not as easily recognised or remembered as Alice, Kim or Oliver Twist; the peripheral or neglected children featured in works by Dickens, Brontë, Austen and Rossetti. The return of the overlooked child to these texts acts like 'a return of the repressed', overturning accepted narratives concerning their structure and meaning. In the second part of the book, some of the more sceptical accounts of the nineteenth century literary child are challenged. 'Ethical' and 'historicist' approaches are shown to be resistant to the text-focused analysis offered in the first part of the book, resulting in an investment in a child that is knowable, 'real' and non-discursive.