Tuesday, 23 March 2010

YAF and the British.

On Sunday night there was a wonderful programme on BBC Radio 3 called Beyond Narnia (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00rjy9k/Sunday_Feature_A_World_Beyond_Narnia/)
which was fascinating and well worth iplayering. However, as I have written elsewhere, I would like to contend that if we use the definition where the protagonist needs to be a teenager/adolescent then YAF started in Britain before it was used in the US.
Amatory novels from the Eighteenth Century, such as Penelope Aubin’s, have thirteen year old heroines often caught in very erotic situations such as The Strange Adventures of Count de Vinevil and his Family (1721). Though the book title might suggest it is about the Count de Vinevil, the adventures are actually those of his teenage daughter Ardelisa. Chris Mounsey has said that Aubin was writing for an audience of the age and probably sex of her main protagonists. Also in his paper ‘”…bring her naked from her Bed, that I may ravish her before the Dotard’s face, and then send his Soul to hell”: Penelope Aubin, impious pietist, humorist or purveyor of juvenile fantasy?’ he suggests that Aubin's books with their moral machineryy surrounding their erotic plots could be seen as a device used 'to educate young people in proper behaviour' but more likely to prevent mothers from realising they were explicityly erotic juvenile novels.
Once again we can see YAF being used as a source of information. This is further evidenced if we go even further back, and whilst using the same definition, to the late Sixteenth Century when Robert Greene wrote ‘cony catching’ literature (1592), which was often aimed at apprentices (generally boys between the ages of twelve and fourteen year old boys) in London. He used them to warn the boys about card sharks, prostitutes, gambling etc. Therefore, this contemporary argument that YAF is innovative in the way it deals with contentious issues seems erroneous in the face of this information.
Going even further back and using the same definition I would suggest that Chaucer's 'Physician's Tale' from The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) is also an example of young adult fiction as the main protagonist once more is an adolescent and also highlights a form of honour killing which in our contemporary world can still be an issue. Virginia, the chaste and beautiful daughter, is murdered by her father, Virginius, rather than allowing her to be sullied by the lecherous governor Apius.
Please also look at Bridget Carrington's PhD thesis entitled 'Paths of Virtue?' as this further validates some of my thoughts.
May be things don't change as much as we think they do.

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