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THE COUNTERFEIT CHILD A conversation between Fiona McCulloch and Steven Bruhm 1.

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1 THE COUNTERFEIT CHILD A conversation between Fiona McCulloch and Steven Bruhm 1

2 As soon as [Alice] had made out he proper way of nursing it (which was to twist it up into a sort of knot, and then keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot, so as to prevent it undoing itself), she carried it out into the open air. ‘If I don’t take this child away with me,’ thought Alice, ‘they’re sure to kill it in a day or two. Wouldn’t it be murder to leave it behind?’ She said these last words out loud, and the little thing grunted in reply …. ‘Don’t grunt,’ said Alice; ‘that’s not a proper way of expressing yourself.’ … Alice was just beginning to think to herself, ‘Now, what am I to do with this creature, when I get it home?’ when it grunted again, so violently, that she looked down into its face in some alarm. This time there could be no mistake about it: it was neither more nor less than a pig, and she felt that it would be quite absurd for her to carry it any further. So, she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to see it trot quietly away into the wood. ‘If it had grown up’, she said to herself, ‘it would have made a dreadfully ugly child: but it makes a rather handsome pig, I think.’ And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might very well be pigs…. 2

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4 4 ‘his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust. “What – is – this?” he said at last. “This is a child! […] We only found it to-day. It’s as large as life, and twice as natural!” “I always thought they were fabulous monsters!” said the Unicorn. “Is it alive?” […] Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: “Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before! “Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you” ‘The Lion looked at Alice wearily. “Are you animal – or vegetable – or mineral? ” “It’s a fabulous monster!” the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply. “Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster,” the Lion said’

5 5 So they walked on together through the wood, Alice with her arms clasped lovingly round the soft neck of the Fawn, till they came out into another open field, and here the Fawn gave a sudden bound into the air, and shook itself free from Alice’s arm. “I’m a Fawn!” “And, dear me! You’re a human child!” A sudden look of alarm came into its beautiful brown eyes, and in another moment it had darted away at full speed. Alice stood looking after it, almost ready to cry … “However, I know my name now,” she said: “that’s some comfort. Alice – Alice – I won’t forget it again’

6 6 ‘This little lily could herself be a house of demons […] watch your children for the signs’ ‘When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she said, “The Devil led us to the wrong crib’

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8 ‘Innocence is a faculty needed not at all by the child but very badly by the adult who put it there in the first place.’ ‘The “child” is nothing more than what it is considered to be, nothing in itself at all.’ James Kincaid, Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture (London: Routledge, st pub. 1992) 8

9 ‘One could say that innocence is more than a blank, that it takes on substance by feeding off its polar opposite, which we might call depravity, a word with plenty of substance […] If innocence depends for its existence on depravity, how can it be said to be free of the depraved? Isn’t it possible that depravity is not around on the other side of the world from innocence but at its core?’ James Kincaid, Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture (1992) 9

10 ‘Claudia was mystery. It was not possible to know what she knew and what she did not know’ (100). ‘She knows!... She’s known for years what to do’ (106). 10

11 ‘Freud uncovered in the sexual life of children the same perverse sexuality that analysis revealed in the symptoms of his patients and which was expressed indirectly in their dreams. By stating that this perverse sexuality was in fact quite normal to the extent that it could be located in the sexual life of the child, and by insisting, furthermore, that it was only spoken in the form of a symptom because it was a form of sexuality which had to be so totally repressed elsewhere, Freud effected a break in our conception of both sexuality and childhood from which we do not seem to have recovered.’ Jacqueline Rose, The Case of Peter Pan; Or the Impossibility of Children’s Fiction (1994) 11

12 ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much’ ‘The Dursleys often spoke about Harry […] as though he wasn’t there – or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn’t understand them, like a slug’ ‘We swore when we took him in we’d put a stop to that rubbish […] swore we’d stamp it out of him!’ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 12

13 ‘Don’t ask questions – that was the first rule for a quiet life in the Dursleys’ Vernon Dursley ‘didn’t approve of imagination’ Uncle Vernon ‘nearly crashed the car’ ‘If there was one thing the Dursleys hated even more than asking questions, it was his talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn’t, no matter if it was in a dream or even a cartoon – they seemed to think he might get dangerous ideas’ PS 13

14 ‘The countryside now flying past the window was becoming wilder. The neat fields had gone. Now there were woods, twisting rivers and dark green hills’ PS 14

15 ‘Ann Widdecombe, justifying her remarks against lone parents, told Good Housekeeping magazine that she feels society should have a “preferred norm”. We may not be some people’s preferred norm but we are here. We should judge how civilized a society is not by what it prefers to call normal but by how it treats its most vulnerable members. When you take poverty out of the question, the vast majority from one-parent families do just as well as children from couple families’ J.K. Rowling in Sean Smith, J.K. Rowling: A Biography (London: Michael O’Mara Books, 2001) 15

16 ‘Little Father Time,’ from Jude the Obscure He was Age masquerading as Juvenility, and doing it so badly that his real self showed crevices. A ground swell from ancient years of night seemed now and then to lift the child in this his morning-life, when his face took a back view over some great Atlantic of Time, and appeared not to care about what it saw. When the other travellers closed their eyes, which they did one by one -- even the kitten curling itself up in the basket, weary of its too circumscribed play – the boy remained just as before. He then seemed to be doubly awake, like an enslaved and dwarfed Divinity, sitting passive and regarding his companions as if he saw their whole rounded lives rather than their immediate figures. 16

17 ‘For the past two centuries, the child has been the vehicle of our psychic transport to somewhere similar to Eden.’ Adam Brenswick, Times Literary Supplement, July 10 th 1998 ‘If adults were burdened with responsibilities, children should be carefree. If adults worked, children should not work […] children were entitled to contact with nature.’ Hugh Cunningham, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500 (London: Longman, 1996) 17

18 ‘In privileging childhood as this sort of “other”, we misrepresent and belittle what we are; more significantly, we belittle childhood and allow ourselves to ignore our actual knowledge of real children. For while all that we see as “other” may appear to be privileged, it is so only at the expense of becoming inhuman, marginalized, actually insignificant.’ Peter Hunt, Literature for Children: Contemporary Criticism (1992) 18

19 ‘There is currently a dominant narrative about children: children are (and should stay) innocent of sexual desires and intentions. At the same time, however, children are also officially, tacitly, assumed to be heterosexual.’ Steven Bruhm and Natasha Hurley, Curiouser: On the Queerness of Children (2004) 19

20 ‘People panic when that sexuality takes on a life outside the sanctioned scripts of child’s play. And nowhere is this panic more explosive than in the field of the queer child, the child whose play confirms neither the comfortable stories of child (a)sexuality nor the supposedly blissful promises of adult heteronormativity’ Bruhm and Hurley 20

21 ‘the queer child is, generally, both defined by and outside of what is “normal.” But the term queer derives also from its association with specifically sexual alterity […] the figure of the queer child is that which doesn’t quite conform to the wished-for way that children are supposed to be in terms of gender and sexual roles […] it is also the child who displays interest in sex generally, in same-sex erotic attachments, or in cross- generational attachments.’ Bruhm and Hurley 21

22 ‘Throughout her journey, Alice is quite fond of identifying things in Wonderland as “queer” and awakens excitedly to tell her sister [… who] transposes the queer into the domestic pastoral.’ Bruhm and Hurley 22

23 ‘The most crucial aspect of psychoanalysis for discussing children’s fiction is its insistence that childhood is something in which we continue to be implicated and which is never simply left behind. Childhood persists […] as something which we endlessly rework in our attempt to build an image of our own history […] The idea that childhood is something separate which can be scrutinised and assessed is the other side of the illusion which makes of childhood something which we have simply ceased to be […] Childhood amnesia or partial recollection of childhood has nothing to do with a gradual cohering of the mind as we get older and our ability to remember improves. Instead it reveals that there are aspects of our childhood which one part of our mind, a part over which we precisely do not have control, would rather forget.’ Rose, The Case of Peter Pan 23

24 ‘Fantasy, nonsense, and parody each question the status of the real in a different, and differently disturbing, way, pushing language and meaning toward dangerous limits of dissolution. Such flirtation with limits of sense-making and, in some works, such dissolution of sense, proves pleasurable because it terrifies. In other words, anarchy is both joyous and disturbing.’ Linda M. Shires, ‘Fantasy, Nonsense, Parody, and the Status of the Real: The Example of Carroll’ (1988) 24

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27 ‘Almost all critics who have studied the emergence of the literary fairy tale in Europe agree that educated writers purposely appropriated the oral folk tale and converted it into a type of literary discourse about mores, values, and manners so that children would become civilized according to the social code of that time.’ Jack Zipes, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion: The Classical Genre for Children and the Process of Civilization (1991) 27

28 ‘the matriarchal world view and motifs of the original folk tales underwent successive stages of “patriarchalization”. That is, by the time the oral folk tales, originally stamped by matriarchal mythology, circulated in the Middle Ages, they had been transformed in different ways: the goddess became a witch, evil fairy, or step- mother; the active, young princess was changed into an active hero; matrilineal marriage and family ties became patrilineal’. Jack Zipes, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion 28

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30 ‘It cannot be stated enough times that works for children and young adults have incredible influence. This body of literature is a powerful tool for including social roles and behaviours’ (Giselle Liza Anatol [ed], Reading Harry Potter, 2003) 30


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