eglantine_br (eglantine_br) wrote,
eglantine_br
eglantine_br

We Are Not All Eugene O'Neil

I had had a piece about Marlowe's boyhood kicking me in the head for about a year. I like to write kid-fic, (as well as Kyd fic, and possibly eventually Kyd-kid fic!) Children think in clear little voices, they really SEE, and they say what they see, if only to themselves. Giving a child's voice to a person helps me know them as older people.

So I started on it, and Kit ended up having a fairly happy boyhood. He loves his parents, and his sisters. His sister, nearest to him in age is recovering from some nasty respiratory illness. (She may have a weakened heart after an infection, like Beth March.) I made up the illness, but the girls are real. They came in that order, and that distance from him. He was their big brother, who eventually went away to school.

In real life, the sisters all outlived him.

Does anyone remember being taught nonsense about history? Back in the 1970s there were books that assured us that people long ago did not love their children, as we do now. (!!!) So when children  died, it didn't really hurt. (!!!) This is about like saying dogs feel no pain because they don't tell us about it in English.

I think what they meant to say is that the idea of childhood as a chocolate box ideal had not happened yet. That came on with the enlightenment, and really got silly under the late Victorians. They felt guilty, I expect about poor kids working in mines and up chimneys, so they expected the kids of the middle and fortunate class to waft around in loose clothing, picking flowers all day.

Nobody in Kit's day expected kids to be happy all day, They were supposed to work, and learn, according to their station, But childhood did exist. Children were not adults. They were acknowledged as smaller, weaker, people, who needed help to reach things, and did not know very much yet. Adults were supposed to teach them stuff. I guess in the end I believe that too. (Except for the station part.)

And then there was the idea that artists and writers must have had a miserable past. Some did. But not all. I expect he was a difficult boy in some ways. He was sharply observant, I am sure, and that can be uncomfortable in a child. I am guessing that Kit kept a lot to himself. Kids do, often. They struggle alone to reconcile adult behavior with adult morals.

But there is no reason to think Kit was particularly unhappy. He does not have to be Eugene O' Neil.

What do you all think?
Tags: childhood, writing about writing instead of writing
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