n Mousaion - Animal characteristics in children's literature : friends or scoundrels?

Special issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Because of its significant role in the education and moral development of children, children's literature often has ethical, nationalistic, cultural and didactic functions. Animal characteristics are often specific to a particular culture and therefore are imbued with certain behavioural characteristics peculiar to that national culture. They also lend themselves to significant implicit authorial comment.

This article examines how behavioural characteristics of the animal characters in the popular stories of AA Milne's (1926) and C Perrault's (1695) and their translations are condoned, condemned or changed in terms of implicit national or cultural values. The study takes into account the social milieu and literary trends of the period in which these tales entered the subsystem of children's literature. It shows that the authors used implicit as well as explicit means to comment on both positive and negative characteristics, and even to approve negative characteristics. Some translators were, in turn, aware of these characteristics and transformed them into the national and cultural mould of the target language culture.
The study is based on a combination of theoretical models of discourse analysis, which take into account the sociological function of language. Although primarily focusing on the English texts, the German, French, Russian, Chinese and Japanese translations are also discussed.

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