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On the Wings of Literature

by P.R. Sarkar

(This is excerpted from a longer, general essay on literature. Herein the author deals particularly with writing as an art form to open the mind of children to the reality of the world.—ed. note)

There is yet another form of literature gradually gaining importance: children’s literature. Here the sense of responsibility and proficiency of the authors is more important than in any other branch of literature. In every sentence of juvenile literature there should be a wonderful attractive power—a crystalline simplicity and an openheartedness without any hesitation. The author of juvenile literature has to explain through language and thought how life should be lived with purity and straightforwardness. The child’s mind is filled with fanciful imagery, and so the litterateurs will also have to soar in the sky of imagination with outstretched wings.
However, they cannot afford to give indulgence to intricacies and complexities in this visionary ascent. The thirst for the distant, and the earnest zeal to know the unknown that abides in the child’s mind must be fulfilled by drawing pictures of magical lands and relating colourful fairy tales. "Real" or "natural" is not so important here. What is more important is to carry the child’s mind along in the current of joy, and in the process to acquaint the child with the world in an easy and simple manner. The harshness of reality should not be portrayed: the child will not want to read or listen to it. "The prince of the mind with his wings outspread in the azure sky soars to the kingdom of the old witch beyond the worlds of the moon and the sun; and, tying his Pegasus to the golden branches of the pearl tree, proceeds in quest of the sleeping princess in the soundless, serene palace. Being informed of the whereabouts of the magic-wands of life and death, and rousing the princess from her centuries-old sleep, he gathers all the information about the sleeping den of the demons, and seeks to establish himself in the world like a hero..."
Picture after picture, colour after colour must accompany the words: this the children’s minds crave. For those who are a little older than small children, that is boys and girls in their early teens, farces and satires are quite successful. In these they... can find the ideals that are conducive to the formation of their characters. But for those who are comparatively young, simplicity will be the guiding principle in whatever is written for them. Giving undue indulgence to the play of words, flowery figures of speech, or long, didactic preaching, will turn juvenile literature into trash.
P. R. Sarkar (1921-1990) founded Renaissance Universal in 1958. This is an excerpt from the essay, The Practice Of Art And Literature, published in the book A Few Problems Solved, part 1, © Ananda Marga Publications.
This article was published in New Renaissance, Vol. 9, Number 4 and posted on the web in July, 2000.

 

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