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Pippi Longstocking, juvenile delinquent? Hachette, self-censorship and the moral reconstruction of postwar France

Heywood, S. (2016) Pippi Longstocking, juvenile delinquent? Hachette, self-censorship and the moral reconstruction of postwar France. Itinéraires, 2015 (2). 2903. ISSN 2427-920X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.4000/itineraires.2903

Abstract/Summary

This paper looks at the blockages to the publication of children’s literature caused by the intellectual climate of the postwar era, through a case study of the editorial policy of Hachette, the largest publisher for children at this time. This period witnessed heightened tensions surrounding the social and humanitarian responsibilities of literature. Writers were blamed for having created a culture of defeatism, and collaborationist authors were punished harshly in the purges. In the case of children’s literature, the discourse on responsibility was made more urgent by the assumption that children were easily influenced by their reading material, and by the centrality of the young to the discourse on the moral reconstruction of France. As the politician and education reformer Gustave Monod put it: “penser l’avenir, c’est penser le sort des enfants et de la jeunesse.” These concerns led to the expansion of associations and publications dedicated to protecting children and promoting “good” reading matter for them, and, famously, to the 1949 law regulating publications for children, which banned the depiction of crime, debauchery and violence that might demoralise young readers. Using the testimonials of former employees, along with readers’ reports and editorial correspondence preserved in the Hachette archives, this paper will examine how individual editorial decisions and self-censorship strategies were shaped by the 1949 law with its attendant discourse of moral panic on children’s reading, and how national concerns for future citizens were balanced with commercial imperatives.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Modern Languages and European Studies > French
ID Code:47508
Publisher:Pléiade

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