“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”
I don’t have a whole lot to say or add about this book, in same way I didn’t have a whole lot to say or add about A Little Princess. I think I like A Little Princess better because the narrative is more focused and makes a little more sense to me. But most of you probably know this one, so I will lay off a beloved childhood class for the most part. What strikes me most about this one is that it’s from 1911 and there’s still the absolute dependence on colonial money in this book, a book ostensibly about children growing up in England. It reminds me a lot of Edward Said’s contrapuntal reading of Mansfield Park in which he reminds himself thoroughly of cost in slave labor, exploitation, and other human wages in order for the rich white people to play. But also, he loves it!
So a lot of books are like this, where the whole of everything is built on the back of colonialism, and it’s important be aware of that, especially in giving a book like this to a child to read with no additional context. But also, it’s not super productive or interesting to allow that to sour the book and try to make sense of it. That’s not to say not to hold people accountable, but to try to compartmentalize those processes as you read.