The Myth of Cokaygne in Children’s Literature
In the English-speaking world, the medieval concept of Cokaygne as a paradisiac landscape made of food is merely preserved as a part of American folklore, the 'Big Rock Candy Mountain'. This motif of food in abundance is recurrent in children’s literature, which is discussed here first of all from a psychoanalytic angle, arguing that the infant’s first contact with the world is established through food intake. In addition, a scarce diet as part of child-rearing in the 19th century and the rationing system during World War II triggered the fantasy in children and adults alike. Accordingly, the medieval land of plenty found a new place in the imagination of the Victorian and post-war child. Apart from the predominant theme of the consuming child, this book also links the notion of cannibalism to the imagined cornucopia of food in children’s literature, which is a frequent motif in many children’s books up to the 21st century.