Civilizational Collapse: Dystopian Imaginings of the Past,
Present, and Future (1880 – Present)
Lindsay Allen – Finding Identity in Ruins: Post-War Children’s literature
In the immediate post-war period, the ruin provided a scene in which the past was lost (and discovered) and in which identities could be found (once lost). In Nesbitt’s writings, the ruins of old London created a template of a shared history which stretched back to Rome and united an almost lost and disparate world in a recognition of a shared remote past (and one that had in itself fallen). Whereas London was destroyed, and the places and buildings were losing that identity, it was also exposing an archaeology of identity. But if that archaeology could not be read, children could find identity anew in playing among the ruins. This rediscovery of identity was clearly feature of the Narnia series, in which a return to and escape from the ruin was a common feature. In these moments, history was almost remembered and recovered, and identity revived. This was an identity which was remote from parental influences and sometimes alone, and thus apart from a civilization that functioned. The Child-Adult-Hero never quite grew up to accept the confines of time.