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Heard but not seen: Gardens and their child ghosts in Rudyard Kipling, T. S. Eliot and Lucy M. Boston

Butler, Catherine ORCID: 2024. Heard but not seen: Gardens and their child ghosts in Rudyard Kipling, T. S. Eliot and Lucy M. Boston. Modernist Cultures 19
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The post-Romantic idealisation of childhood in much late-Victorian and Edwardian literature often makes use of a garden setting as a locus amoenus associated (like childhood itself) with qualities of innocence. There was inevitably a disjunction between this idealised image and the lives of actual children, however. One aspect of that difference was the high incidence of child mortality, a phenomenon notably absent from most Golden Age children’s literature, though present in the lives of many of its authors. The depiction of child ghosts was one way of acknowledging this trauma. Rudyard Kipling’s story ‘They’ is a powerful case in point, one that echoes in the work of writers as diverse as T. S. Eliot and Lucy M. Boston. It is a text unusual both in the directness with which it exposes the disjunction noted above and in its willingness to explore (though not wholly embrace) new narrative and genre approaches to its resolution, some of which would go on to inform key texts of modernism and of twentieth-century rurality.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rudyard Kipling, T. S. Eliot, Lucy M. Boston, ghosts, gardens
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
ISSN: 2041-1022
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 April 2024
Date of Acceptance: 15 April 2024
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2024 05:45

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