[LMB] Children -- repost,
john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Sat Jan 26 13:59:03 GMT 2019
Pouncer has, as often, a lot of interesting thoughts and observations.
Going back to Pippin for a moment, my point was only that, in some measure,
hobbits in general and Pippin in particular occupy the space in LR that
might otherwise hold more self-evident children.
But the Hod/Hawthorn comparison is an interesting one. Mass education, and
expectations of it, are of course pretty recent developments. It's only
during the C19 in the UK that the government legislates children off the
streets, out of work, and into school : Blake knew in the 1790s that for a
lot of people the important thing about children was that they fitted up
chimneys, but by the 1890s children's lit had developed with childhood
becoming a policed Eden into which sex, death, and other fallen things were
not to be admitted. For most, before that, whatever casual teaching parents
might manage + apprenticeship was it.
The big question is literacy. Every time the historians revise their
estimates, it seems that more people were more literate earlier, but (a)
literacy falls as well as rises, and (b) it didn't make a big enough
difference until the printing press began to generate a lot more things
that could be read.
Do we know with certainty that there are or are not printing presses in the
WGW? There's a mint, and whoever made Dag's spring clasp plug-in, so the
fabrication skills are there, but I think there isn't even block-printing,
never mind moveable metal type. The sign outside the farm that Fawn reads
right at the beginning of Beguilement has pictures of fare and prices,
IIRC, not words, so no expectation that all travellers will be literate.
It's a powerful, if unrealised, restriction on any organised education.
John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)
Associate Member & Director of Studies in English, Hughes Hall, Cambridge
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