When William Faulkner and Langston Hughes published their first books of children’s literature during the 1930s, they didn’t just break new ground.
The duo rewrote the fairy tale: Faulkner’s The Jungle, and Hughes’ Monty Python’s Odyssey. Before their books were published in bookstores in 1941, each of the two writers had a regular column in a children’s magazine called The Lady in the Ring.
Hughes’ book of The Odyssey was published first. Given the cultural and historical importance of the book, including all its depictions of war and murder and the way it portrays living alongside and observing those less fortunate than oneself, its publication was highly significant. Meanwhile, The Jungle, with its hard-bitten moral and survival elements, was just as revolutionary in the male-dominated literary world.
The Jungle was widely accepted as fiction in the 1930s, when it was published, and became an international hit when it was adapted as a film in 1941.
The Babe Ruth? That’s Faulkner’s Night and Day, published the same year Hughes’ Odyssey hit the shelves. The inspiration for the tale comes from the famous “The Dayton Banana” episode of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, in which a monkey describes a scheme for improving the masses by stacking a giant banana on top of them.
Both James T Kirk and POTUS Donald Trump have, in their own (female) way, depicted monkeys as something below or underling to the average person, so it seems fitting that in the first edition of Night and Day, the little furry creatures are more like Blair Witch, when he first figures out his powers of teleportation, than Napoleon Bonaparte, or Pinocchio, for that matter.
Leave a Comment