By Gyo Fujikawa
William Blake, Kate Greenaway, Emily Dickinson: the writers during this captivating anthology of two hundred poems—first released in 1969—are between literature's so much loved. And Gyo Fujikawa's attractive illustrations depict young children of all races sweetly interacting, in addition to an engagingly rendered menagerie of animals and the flora and fauna in all its wonderment. one of the verses that kids will love are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Christmas Bells," Lewis Carroll's "The depression Pig," and Eugene Fields' "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," in addition to proverbs, limericks, nursery rhymes, and folks songs.
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Yet neither book goes so far as to represent reason, however flawed it might be, as operating in animal form, or to depict humans without it. In this way, these tales of othering, while potentially radical and demonstrably satirical, delimit the extent to which child readers are exposed to posthuman concerns and demonstrate that simply embodying animality or satirizing humanity is not necessarily the same as, to recall N. Katherine Hayles’s expression, becoming posthuman. In the later books, however, the stability of the human becomes much more fractured in a manner that interestingly predicts facets of posthuman discourse.
This book is thus deliberately non-linear; what emerges is not a tracing of an evolution of humanist agendas to posthuman ones. Instead, these fictions demonstrate the messy, confused, unstable and dynamic ways in which the human and the more-than-human have been, and continue to be, conceived—a fusion of ideas that operates very much in accordance with the hybrid nature of posthuman philosophy itself. â•‡See, for example, Perry Nodelman, The Hidden Adult: Defining Children’s Literature (2008) and Maria Nikolajeva, Children’s Literature Comes of Age: Toward a New Aesthetic (1996).
Gulliver’s miserable struggle to know Houyhnhnm virtue but to exist as a human-yahoo-other highlights attempts to embody a posthuman future: to be “too premature” in celebrating the end of humanity. As Hayles puts it, “[w]e do not leave our history behind but rather, like snails, carry it around with us in the sedimented and enculturated instantiations of our pasts we call our bodies” (“The Human in the Posthuman”, 137). For Gulliver, a futurist vision of a posthuman potentiality, albeit one itself haunted by “filthy Yahoos” (215), becomes just such an acculturated instantiation from his past, but it makes for a demonstrably bleak and unrelenting future.