from Little Brother & Little Sister and Other Tales by the Brothers Grimm, 1917

  Illustration by Arthur Rackham
From Jacob Grimm, 1785-1863, Little Brother & Little Sister and Other Tales by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1917.

The emergence of the category of children's literature in the nineteenth century is not confined to Italy, of course. European romanticism brought together an interest in children with a passion for popular literary forms and for mythic themes and structures. The Grimm brothers' tales, published between 1812 and 1814, for example, created a mythic-symbolic language and recurrent themes that became part of children's imaginations throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and now twenty-first centuries. We need only think of other masterpieces of children's literature written in the nineteenth century, such as the tales of Hans Christian Andersen or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dobson), published in 1865, only two decades before Collodi created Pinocchio. In the Western world generally, as the notion of the child changed and as children's particular status and needs were addressed through educational reforms, so too did books reflect this new perspective. In Italy, even the most didactic, child-oriented books continued, however, to assume familiarity with classical and Church history, with narrative techniques, and with fairly sophisticated language, thus blurring the borderline between children's and adult's literature.