“Wild Surmise”: The Pleasures and Pains of Coming Second in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons

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Abstract

This article explores Arthur Ransome's engagement with ideas about children, adventure and exploration from the long eighteenth century in his celebrated Swallows and Amazons series. I argue that Ransome positions his child protagonists between the practical enlightenment of Daniel Defoe's marooned hero and John Keats' Romantic belatedness: the Walkers and Blacketts find themselves exploring a world that is already inhabited by those they dismissively call “natives” - their adult parents. Swallows and Amazons uses Crusoe and Keats to work out ways for children to cope with coming second - with their subordination within existing discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-294
JournalChildren's Literature Association Quarterly
Volume41
Issue number3
Early online date30 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2016

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