Introduction: On Children’s Booksand ‘Mature’ Stories
This chapter presents the consequences of an historical tendency in both children's literature criticism and the Kipling criticism, which is to look at accounts of the life of the author to explain and account for the fiction. In critical narratives such as these childhood is seen as something elusive and yet retrievable through the literature that is characterized either as a writing of, or a response to, the actuality of the author's own childhood, and/or as an account of the author's relationship with their own children. By celebrating the child's adaptability and its gradual mastery of verbal and visual signs, Kipling could also partake in a transformative process of obvious therapeutic value to himself. One example of the way in which the author creeps back into criticism that claims to have other priorities can be found in Maria Nikolajeva's 2003 article on narrative theory and children's literature criticism.