16 February, 2009

Lirerary and Cultural Connections

When I wrote about a particular section of North and South a couple of weeks back, I shared the following passages and mentioned that I kept reflecting on them; turning them over in my mind.
Let me give a little explanation as to 'why.'

From near the end of Chapter XV:

Mr. Hale said--

'I dare say I am talking in great ignorance; but from the little I know, I should say that the masses were already passing rapidly into the troublesome stage which intervenes between childhood and manhood, in the life of the multitude as well as that of the individual. Now, the error which many parents commit in the treatment of the individual at this time is, insisting on the same unreasoning obedience as when all he had to do in the way of duty was, to obey the simple laws of "Come when you're called and "Do as you're bid!" But a wise parent humours the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and adviser when his absolute rule shall cease.' [Javamom, here...Charlotte Mason says something to similar effect!!]

This reminded me that in some circles, there has been this push to deny that this time in kids' lives did not exist until 1960, that somehow, our 20th Century was the first to "come up with this time period in kids' lives" in which we somehow make excuses (as a society) and give them permission to rebel. Perhaps it is just the term 'teenager' that became more accepted in this time, but I have to *heartily* disagree that the transition never existed before 1960.

This never set right with me, and I skirted the possibilities of it while our older two were going through the changes of the teenage years.

It is (to me) very exciting to read older literature that alludes to this time period in the lives and normal development of humans in earlier time periods than the 20th Century. Another fact of older literature is the divulsion that more than a few adults were addicted to Opium and Laudenum (it was given for medicinal purposes) and snuff!

Why do we glorify certain centuries or eras more than others and put down the supposed 'construct' of the teenage years?

The second passage I quoted was of Margaret mentioning:

'I heard a story of what happened in Nuremberg only three or four years ago. A rich man there lived alone in one of the immense mansions which were formerly both dwellings and warehouses. It was reported that he had a child, but no one knew of it for certain. For forty years this rumour kept rising and falling--never utterly dying away. After his death it was found to be true. He had a son--an overgrown man with the unexercised intellect of a child, whom he had kept up in that strange way, in order to save him from temptation and error. But, of course, when this great old child was turned loose into the world, every bad counsellor had power over him. He did not know good from evil. His father had made the blunder of bringing him up in ignorance and taking it for innocence; and after fourteen months of riotous living, the city authorities had to take charge of him, in order to save him from starvation. He could not even use words effectively enough to be a successful beggar.'

It finally clicked with me: I now think she is referring to the story of Kaspar Hauser, also mentioned in Charlotte Mason's Volume 3, pages 71-74.

Continuing to make connections; characteristics of life-long learning ~


1 comment:

Katie said...

L.M. Alcott also talks about that awkward age between childhood and manhood, specifically in boys. I'll try to find a reference.