Cherchez l’enfant

Prospect Magazine

Cherchez l’enfant

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It looks like a golden age for children’s writing. A British tradition has been reinvigorated by two good, though overrated, authors. JK Rowling and Philip Pullman differ from previous classic authors in aiming at a slightly older age range, and their metaphysics are silly. Still, they reflect our times

When I was at prep school at the end of the 1950s, Wednesday was a red-letter day, because it was then that Eagle arrived. This was the only comic that we were allowed to read, and it is a tribute to Eagle’s quality that we revelled in it even though it was lawful. The first two pages depicted the adventures of Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, who did battle with the totalitarian green men of Venus, the Treens, led by their evil genius, the Mekon. That was the best of the adventure strips; the others were of variable quality, but none was contemptible either as story or as artwork. There was Luck of the Legion, a rip-off of Beau Geste; there was a cowboy, Jeff Arnold, Rider of the Range; there was Storm Nelson, who sailed round the world with a small private fleet foiling villains; and there was

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Richard Jenkyns

Richard Jenkyns is a professor of the classical tradition and a fellow and tutor in classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford 

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