Léopold Chauveau’s ‘La littérature enfantine’ lecture (1938): a talk on a talk

Léopold Chauveau’s ‘La littérature enfantine’ lecture (1938): a talk on a talk

College of Arts School of Modern Languages and Cultures Stirling Maxwell Centre
Date: Monday 20 February 2023
Time: 17:00 - 18:00
Venue: TalkLab (University of Glasgow Library) and online.
Category: Public lectures
Speaker: Nat Paterson (Stirling Maxwell Centre PhD, University of Glasgow)
Website: www.gla.ac.uk/schools/mlc/resschol/clust-centr/smc/
Document: Leopold Chauveau Poster PDF

The author, illustrator, and visual artist Léopold Chauveau (1870-1940) was respected within artistic circles but remained a ‘genius little-known’ (Roland Topor) among critics and the general public for decades before the ongoing resurgence of interest, which began with the first new editions of his children’s stories in the 1990s and gained prominence with a major 2020 Musée d’Orsay exhibition. Recent critics have drawn attention to the ‘modernity’ of Chauveau’s anti-didactic approach, whose key features include the depiction of his son Renaud as a fictionalised co-author and a visual style influenced by the drawings of children.

This seminar will place what the Orsay exhibition termed the ‘elective affinities’ between Chauveau and prominent living author-illustrators within the context of Chauveau’s own contribution to contemporary debate. I will analyse the only lecture he ever delivered, to fellow writers at the Club George Sand, both in terms of arguments about the purpose of children’s literature (didacticism vs pleasure) that were familiar to contemporary readers and of ideas more surprising for the period, such as the suggestion children are cynical due to their mistreatment and doubts about anthropocentrism expressed ironically when analysing animal stories. I provide my unpublished translation of the lecture (all rights reserved).

In person (TalkLab, University of Glasgow Library) and online.

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