The Child Phenomenon
Posted by Ken on October 07, 1997 at 14:09:15:
In response to Dr. Spock in the 1790's, written by Helen on September 24, 1997 at 09:13:09
] I do think that part of the reason why there are spoilt children in the novels (young children, I mean, as opposed to grown characters who are selfish and rude) is that it reflects the fashion for "letting your children express themselves and develop rather that disciplining them" which was around during the turn of the 18th century, drawing on the ideas of Rousseau, the French Dr. Spock.
Actually, it was not until the 18th century that Western culture even developed the notion of the child. Before, there were infants (up to about 6 yrs. old) and miniature adults in western thinking. It is debatable whether Rousseau is ahead or behind this curve, IMHO, though he has a lot to answer for in any case--and not just on childcare (-: (Certainly the first time I've heard him referred to as Dr. Spock--I think my old Sorbonne prof would be horrified (-: ) In any event, you can link Rousseau with Romanticism in the next generation or two down the line, and perhaps, just perhaps, that is what one sees in the novels.
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