Peter Rabbit and Voices in the Park Essay example

Peter Rabbit and Voices in the Park Essay example

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Voices in the Park were published at either end of the twentieth century, a period which witnessed the creation of the modern picturebook for children. They are both extremely prestigious examples of picturebooks of their type, the one very traditional, the other surrealist and postmodern. The definition of ‘picturebook’ used here is Bader’s: ‘an art form [which] hinges on the interdependence of pictures and words, on the simultaneous display of two facing pages, and on the drama of the turning of the page’ (Bader, quoted in Montgomery, 2009, p. 211). In contrast with a simple illustrated book, the picturebook can use all of the technology available to it to produce an indistinguishable whole, the meaning and value of which is dependent on the interplay between all or any of these aspects. Moebius’s claim that they can ‘portray the intangible and invisible[…], ideas that escape easy definition in pictures or words’ is particularly relevant to these two works. Potter’s book is, beneath its didactic Victorian narrative, remarkably subtle and subversive in its attitudes towards childhood, and its message to its child readers. Browne’s Voices in the Park, on the other hand, dispenses with any textual narrative; by his use of the devices of postmodernism, visual intertextuality and metaphor, he creates a work of infinite interpretation, in which the active involvement of the reader is key.

Although The Tale of Peter Rabbit is not a ‘modern’ picturebook, and was written to a different concept of childhood than Voices in the Park, it certainly falls within Bader’s description. Susan Hill has described the events of the book as reflecting ‘the world of the Victorian nursery… Naughtiness may be understood...


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...h the message is conveyed. Potter’s juxtaposition of picture and word also rewards the reader for trusting the evidence of his or her eyes, rather than simply submitting to the authoritative voice.

In comparison, Voices in the Park is infinitely complex and layered with meaning and symbol, wherever the reader should choose to find it. Moebius’s statement is fully realised here as Browne combines all of the technology of his medium - the words as text and picture, use of symbol, intertextuality and space - to portray ideas that remain intangible, and concepts that are infinitely open to definition. In this he displays the complexity of his and his readers’ experience, in the way that Potter, in her own way, did of hers.









































































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Peter Rabbit and Voices in the Park Essay example

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