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Genius in FranceAn Idea and Its Uses$
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Ann Jefferson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691160658

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691160658.001.0001

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Exemplarity and Performance in Literature for Children

Exemplarity and Performance in Literature for Children

(p.161) Chapter 13 Exemplarity and Performance in Literature for Children
Genius in France

Ann Jefferson

Princeton University Press

This chapter surveys the children's literature detailing genius-level exemplarity and performance. The association between genius and childhood was already implicit in the image of innate genius in the eighteenth century, gearing it essentially to youth. From the start of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, child prodigies and the childhood of genius—though not necessarily the same thing—became the focus of new forms of attention that subjected them to particularly intense scrutiny in three major areas: children's literature, experimental psychology, and, in the middle of the twentieth century, the popular press. The chapter first examines Charles Baudelaire's claim that “genius is simply childhood recovered at will,” before turning to the subject of famous children as well as children's literature.

Keywords:   youth, precocity, children's literature, child prodigies, childhood, genius, famous children

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