Part I. Theory and critical approaches
12. Narrative theory and children’s literature
Every theoretical direction is only legitimate if it allows us to disclose dimensions in literary texts that we would not be able to discover with other methods. Narrative theory has given us tools to analyse in detail how texts are constructed, on both macro- and microlevels, and to come closer to understanding why certain devices work more or less successfully in children’s books while others fail. It also facilitates a historical comparison, which pinpoints not only changes in themes and values, but also the profound changes in the aesthetic form of children’s literature. Further, by combining purely narratological studies with other theories and methods (for instance, narratology and psychoanalysis in Brooks 1984, or narratology and feminist criticism in Hohne and Wussow 1994) we may disclose the mutual dependence of form and content, which Structuralism and narratology traditionally neglect. From the examination of structural elements we can proceed to asking how exactly narrative features work as bearers of psychological elements, social values, and ideology.
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