Thursday, 4 November 2010

Childhood Horror

I think I am becoming slightly addicted to childhood literature. I'm hoping it is not just me that finds this riveting. The Daily Telegraph last week published an article entitled 'Early memories of horror' in which various authors and writers reveal the stories that gave them sleepless nights in their childhood. Jeffrey Archer reveals finding Bill Sykes from Oliver terrifying, Amanda Craig recollects 'absolute terror' at Alice in Wonderland. Emma Donoghue disturbingly remembers reading a Victorian novel in which a child is kidnapped and sold in to the white slave trade, she becomes a child whore and lays down and lifts her skirt whenever a man enters the room. Both Charlie Higson and Alexander McCall Smith both express utter fright at Der Struwwelpeter. For me, well I had was scared witless by Pinocchio, the thought of those children turning in to donkeys disturbed me permanently.

The article was of particular interest to me as I am currently studying how much unpleasantness can be embedded in to a fairy tale before it becomes damaging to the child. Fairy tales of modern society have been significantly watered down in comparison to their eighteenth century counter parts in which brutal revenge is common, and blood, gore and violence the norm.

What books or tales do you remember finding particularly terrifying as a child?

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