The Prodigy under Suspicion
This chapter examines the controversies surrounding the Minou Drouet affair, with Minou being a previously unknown eight-year-old child poet who had captured public interest. The publisher René Julliard had distributed a selection of her letters and poems in the form of a little pamphlet sent to critics, writers, and friends “to put down a marker” and provide advance publicity for the first commercial edition of Minou's poetry, Arbre, mon ami (Tree, my friend), which was scheduled to appear in January 1956, whereafter it sold forty-five thousand copies. In the meantime, and in the absence of any book publication, the affair took off and developed into a full-scale controversy as the authenticity of Minou's talent was called into question. This chapter considers Minou's story in light of the public perception on child prodigies—initially as objects of collective curiosity, and hereafter as the target of suspicion.
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