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When the Wild Things Are

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The LRB on the late Maurice Sendak:

Marina Warner, 1989: ‘In 1981 he created his own Gothic fantasy with the astonishing Outside Over There, a picture book in which a little girl who is left in charge of her baby sister “never watched”, with the result that goblins come and carry the baby off, substituting a changeling of ice… Where the wild things are (1967) describes a more routine disaster of childhood: the child hero, Max, quarrels with his mother. Another Sendak classic, In the Night Kitchen (1970), dramatises fear of the dark and the emptiness of a house at night when everyone sleeps. All three are inspired but doctrinal renderings of Freudian theory.’

Hal Foster, 2011: ‘Perhaps it is a question less of where the wild things are – we have names for those spaces, which we project inward or outward as the unconscious or the other – than when they appear. Potentially this is right now, or whenever the symbolic order cracks under political pressure. This is not necessarily a psychotic moment, or even a romantic one; it can be, as it is with Max, an intense imagining, via the creaturely, of new social links.’

Jenny Diski, 2009: ‘If you haven’t time to read Totem and Taboo, I suggest Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.’

Comments on “When the Wild Things Are”

  1. Simon Wood says:

    ‘Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories’ by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1966) were illuminated by Sendak’s brilliant black-and-white, sparely and lightly drawn pictures, which levened the somewhat heavily therapeutic tales of what it is to be persistently foolish.

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