Childhood Literature. Childhood and Literature have walked together from the beginning, because childhood has been a favorite topic for most authors. Today, we are going to analyze two of them: Francisco de Quevedo and Rudyard Kipling.
Rudyard Kipling’s main characters of his two most famous novels: “The Jungle Book” (1893-1894) and “Kim” (1896) were children: poor naughty children, lost in adverse circumstances (a jungle and a populous Indian city) and trying to survive.
Childhood has been an important subject from the beginning of literature (poems, novels, essays…). In Spain, in the 16th and 17th century, poor naughty children (rogues) were the source of inspiration for different authors, maybe Francisco de Quevedo (Madrid, 1580- Villanueva de los Infantes, 1645) is the most renowned.
“El Buscon” by Quevedo tells about a rogue, don Pablos. It is a flashback, written in first person to outstand don Pablos’ wickedness. He never repents of his bad past, he never thinks of the possibility of having acting with honor, he only regrets not to have being successful and his only wish is to live as the high society.
However, Kipling writes about his main characters in a moral and constructive way. The reader is going to learn with them how to arrive at being a good person overcoming the problems and difficulties of life and trying to behave with honor in capital letters, since it is an instinctive honor: nobody has taught Mowgli or Kim.
Francisco de Quevedo lived in a breaking moment. Spanish empire was decadent, the same as its society. Does not matter if the empire was to continue for other 150 years, its roots were seriously damaged. Scatological anecdotes are frequent and positive characters are only impotent victims.
Rudyard Kipling (Bombay, 1865- London, 1936) lived in a glorious moment: the Victorian time. High moral, perfect people, clean world. He wrote smartly and happily since, in fact, he was the youngest person of winning the Nobel prize.
Yes, Rudyard Kipling lived in a glorious moment until 1915. During the First World War, his son John was killed and afterwards, his writings were quite different: not more positive novels but sad articles advising of future risk, advising of Nazism and of IIWW birth… Kipling died in 1936, long time ago he had written his famous marvelous heroic “If” poem, now he maybe could understand the famous hard antiheroic “Buscon” by Quevedo.
Everyone has bad and good moments! Anyway, I love both of them.