Friday, December 10, 2010

A Nobel Laureate and his love for children’s literature

One of my favorite images is I.B Singer, along with other writers at the Garden Cafeteria in NYC, discussing the purpose of literature while eating mountains of rice pudding and countless cups of coffee.

I.B.Singer (Nov 21-1902- July 24, 1991) was the recipient of the 1978 Nobel Laureate in Literature. His acceptance was delivered in Yiddish and English and part of his Nobel Lectures was titled “ Why I Write for Children”.”  In honor of the Novel Laureate Award ceremony and banquet on December 10, I would like to share that piece.

…Ladies and Gentlemen: There are five hundred reasons why I began to write for children, but to save time I will mention only ten of them.

Number 1) Children read books, not reviews. They don't give a hoot about the critics. Number 2) Children don't read to find their identity.
Number 3) They don't read to free themselves of guilt, to quench the thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation.
Number 4) They have no use for psychology.
Number 5) They detest sociology.
Number 6) They don't try to understand Kafka or Finnegans Wake.
Number 7) They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.
Number 8) They love interesting stories, not commentary, guides, or footnotes.
Number 9) When a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority.
Number 10) They don't expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions.

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