Sunday, October 11, 2009

The children's suicides

Fascinating interview in Saturday's New York Times with the writer A.S. Byatt on her new novel, The Children's Book. The central character is a writer of children's books, and Byatt says the idea of the novel came to her because she had been thinking about how child-rearing changed in the late-Victorian era.

“People began talking to their children as people,” Byatt tells interviewer Charles McGrath. “They even took tea with them. That’s a change — you wouldn’t find it in Dickens or Jane Austen. And this also coincides with Freud’s deciding that everything comes from childhood and discovering all sorts of little dark things there, even if they weren’t true.”

I don't know much about that, but her comment made me instantly interested. Then I read on a few more grafs, and found this: Byatt says she was struck by “all the children of the children’s writers who killed themselves."

Alison Uttley is one writer she mentions, who wrote stories about rabbits and hedgehogs. Her son grew up and married a woman Uttley didn't like. The son drove his car off of a cliff.

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