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The Flip Side of Arcadia: a Consideration of the Influence of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928).

Webb, Jean (2020) The Flip Side of Arcadia: a Consideration of the Influence of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). In: Posthuman Pooh: Edward Bear After One Hundred Years. University of Mississippi Press, Mississippi. (Submitted)

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Abstract

A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928) published during the early decades of the twentieth century epitomize a highly influential Arcadian model of childhood in English children’s literature. When recently teaching a module on children’s literature which covers English children’s literature from the nineteenth century to contemporary times I reflected on how much the literary depiction of childhood has both been influenced by Milne’s work and how much such a model has changed over the last century. This chapter will therefore consider the shifts in such representation from the early twentieth century to the early twenty first century by considering the models of childhood depicted in Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928) by A.A. Milne and Anne Fine’s Blood Family (2013). As said, Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner epitomizes The Arcadian period which is set against a safe pastoral environment providing an enclosed model of childhood reflecting the ideals of Romanticism, whilst Anne Fine’s contemporary Blood Family confronts the vulnerability of childhood in an urban setting. The safe world of Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin and friends completely blanks out a troublesome period of English history. The nineteen twenties were a period of depression and decline in the British economy leading to the General Strike of 1926. As an Assistant Editor and humorous writer for the political magazine Punch, Milne would have been au fait with current events. Furthermore Milne had been a serving soldier in World War One even though his personal view was that of a pacifist. There are no indications in the Hundred Acre Wood of any such turmoil. The stories also end when Christopher Robin is to go to school and thus leaves this gentle protected haven to begin his journey to adulthood. In contrast Anne Fine’s novel follows the inner life and experiences of Edward, a severely abused child through to adulthood. Whereas Christopher Robin’s community is close, friendly and supportive, an extended family, Edward is subject to the bureaucracy and uncertainty of the public child care services. This chapter will therefore consider the shifts in the gaps between children’s and youths’ lived experience and the implications of the literary representation of childhood in the UK, raising questions about the literary models of childhood, the influence of Milne’s work and what I have termed the flip side of Arcadia.

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Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
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Depositing User: Jean Webb
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2018 09:49
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2018 10:37
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/6510

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