Monday, November 05, 2007

And In This Corner...

Back in October, Roger Sutton over at Read Roger posted a link to what he called a "legendary battle" between Camille Paglia and Julie Burchill. One of his commenters asked, "What are the great literary feuds of our field?"

Well, I don't know if this is legendary, or even great, but thirty-five years ago, long before Roger had probably even heard of The Horn Book, a juicy mud-slinging match took place within the covers of that hallowed publication. As I mentioned yesterday, Eleanor Cameron wrote an article for The Horn Book back in 1972. It was a three-part article, actually, called McLuhan, Youth, and Literature Parts I, II, and III. In it, Cameron shreds McLuhan, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the YA lit of her day.

This woman wasn't crazy for Marshall McLuhan, and she felt writers for youth, seemed "to be incapable of complexity of characterization and meaning, but of subtlety and wit and individuality of style as well." But what she really, really didn't like was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

An Eleanor Cameron vs. Roald Dahl slugfest followed, complete with commentary from the audience, including a letter from Cameron supporter Ursula K. Le Guin. What with the publication of the first portion of the article and all the letters to the editor this went on for a year.

Back in the day they knew how to get down and ugly. It all makes what goes on in kidlit blogs now look tame.



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