Thursday, September 1, 2011

Childish Fantasies

As a child and a teenager, I read a great deal of fantasy books. I did this because my father had quite a few in his closet, partly because I'm geeky that way, and partly because I was expected to. Popular wisdom where I grew up, and in fact everywhere in America I have personally been, held that there was a special connection between children and fantasy that rendered younger people more likely to read and fantastic stories than purportedly-mature adults. I have read no studies confirming that this is the case but am provisionally prepared to accept it as truth, at least for people resembling me, that is the children of white, white-collar American families of no great religiosity. The question that interests me is why that should be. I've heard quite a few explanations over the years, but none of them has entirely satisfied me, as most seemed to rely on an uncharitable misunderstanding of either children or fantasy, while the dissenters simply shifted their contempt towards adults and realism.