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‘Dangerous Creatures’: Selected children’s versions of Homer’s Odyssey in English

RICHARDS, FRANCESCA,MARIA (2016) ‘Dangerous Creatures’: Selected children’s versions of Homer’s Odyssey in English
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis considers how the Odyssey was adapted for children, as a specific readership, in English literature 1699-2014. It thus traces both the emergence of children’s literature as a publishing category and the transformation of the Odyssey into a tale of adventure – a perception of the Odyssey which is still widely accepted today (and not only among children) but which is not, for example, how Aristotle understood the poem. I explore case studies from three different points in the development of children’s literature, and in the development of the Odyssey as a tale of adventure, and connect them to broader cultural attitudes to children and to classical literature. The first, the successful translation of François Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon’s Les aventures de Télémaque (The Adventures of Telemachus, 1699) illustrates the clash of the Odyssey with contemporary discourse on literature and education. I then turn to Charles Lamb’s The Adventures of Ulysses (1808) – a text that was at the heart of Romantic cultural upheavals and the commercial development of children’s literature, and which responded directly to Fénelon. Lamb’s work transformed the way the Homeric poem would engage with children by focusing on the fantastic adventures of Odysseus, rather than Telemachus, as Fénelon had done. The nineteenth-century shift in the critical reaction to Lamb’s work, and to the notion of reading adventure for recreational purposes, would eventually see The Adventures of Ulysses become a foundational text for future generations of Odysseys for children, and indeed in the reception of the Odyssey more generally (Lamb’s version was foundational for Joyce, for example). The final part of the thesis explores how Lamb’s influence is still operational in a new generation of texts that use subaltern voices in an apparently antagonistic approach to the poem. The thesis argues that the children’s texts considered, which are often treated as marginal, both as classical receptions and as children’s literature, need to be brought to the core of classical studies.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Odyssey; Homer; children's literature; classical reception; Fénelon; Charles Lamb;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 May 2016 10:36

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