Nick Campbell is a current research student at Roehampton University, now awaiting his viva. His thesis is entitled "Children’s Neo-Romanticism: The Archaeological Imagination in Post-War Children’s Fantasy". His research interests include radical visions of place, folklore and the history of children’s publishing.
In The Edge of the World (1983), John Gordon’s young protagonists must journey through the fantastic landscape of a nameless fantasy world. This exotic realm of deserts, glass palaces and ghouls recalls countless children’s fantasy novels, but it differs in its close yet obscure relationship to Kit and Tekker’s mundane home landscape of Wisbech and the Cambridgeshire Fens. Local history and features of the real world’s landscape regularly erupt into Kit and Tekker’s journey, by turns guiding and disorientating them and prompting a highly subjective experience of ‘place’ and its production. Their navigation of these real and unreal worlds, evading enemies (and dodging parents) in a quest to heal a symbolic fracture, suggests a specialised form of what Michel de Certeau calls "spatial practice". This essay explores how this representation of children’s spatial practice in John Gordon’s work relates to Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1963), another story of fantastic place co-existent with the mundane one, and of being lost in them both. It argues for important differences in Gordon’s approach, influenced by early twentieth century trends in landscape history, and the revisionary power of the archaeological imagination.
How to Cite:
Campbell, N. (2017). Revisionary Fantasy: Children’s Spatial Practice and the Cambridgeshire Landscape in John Gordon’s The Edge of the World. Roundtable, 1(1), 4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.24877/rt.16