This is the second chapter that I have framed in terms of the Symbolic. Whereas the previous one was critical of sociological readings of texts, this one considers a far more ambitious work: The Hidden Adult (2008) by Perry Nodelman, in which he attempts to define the whole field of children’s literature (Rose, of course, attended to just a subsection of this — children’s fiction — which she saw as impossible). Both Rose and Nodelman are united in seeing this seemingly safe, imaginary realm as concealing more significant, symbolic concerns, but whereas I emphasised the imaginary appeal of the Peter Pan figure in the first two chapters (emphasising its Romantic roots in Rose’s work, also), here I want to continue probing the way this figure has been dismantled. So, whereas Rose tends to emphasise the seeming innocence and evasion of adult concerns in children’s literature texts (the Imaginary), Nodelman considers these adult concerns to be more overt. His claim is clear, straight from the title of his book, that there is always a ‘hidden adult’ in children’s literature. However, unlike Rose (whom Nodelman 2010 warmly credits), he is far more precise (and less negative) about the nature of this adult presence. As he puts it, a text of children’s literature ‘implies an unspoken and much more complex repertoire that amounts to a second, hidden text’, which he terms a ‘shadow text’ (Nodelman, 2008: 8).
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