№2 2017

УДК / UDK: 82.3

Author: Ekaterina A. Stetsenko
About the author:

Ekaterina A. Stetsenko (Doctor Hab. in Philology, Chief Research Associate; A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)

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The article deals with specificity of the concept of childishness in the USA literature, where the theme of childhood, the figures of children and teenagers and narration from their point of view have deep philosophical, ethical and aesthetical meaning. One of the reasons of putting complex life problems in the context of child consciousness is the evident likeness of ontogenesis (the development of a person) and phylogenesis (the development of society). That’s why the concept of childishness can be present not only in children’s literature but also in adult one, where it serves as a sign of natural and of moral health and sometimes manifests infantilism, irresponsibility or declining to archaic. In the USA culture the concept of childishness occupies a special place because the American nation developed in its own way — its infancy (colonial prehistory) fell on the end of the Renaissance and its youth fell on the rather mature in the history of the Old World age of Enlightenment. The young society, being only approximately two hundred years old, preserved the traits of youth worldview during all its history. The category of childishness is present in the whole national literature. It can be found in the books of such writers as H. Melville, M. Twain, H. Adams, J. London, E. Hemingway, W. Faulkner, J. Salindger and K. Vonnegut. In the epoch of postmodernism the tradition of childhood depiction, before based on the ideas of the Enlightenment, changed, accepted new senses and lost its undoubtedly positive connotations. Childishness as the constant feature of the American character and as flexible aesthetic category continued to remain the dominant part of the American literature, determining the type of national culture.

Keywords: childishness, American literature, phylogenesis, ontogenesis, infantilism, juvenile psychology, narrator’s point of view.