Is Michael Chabon Giving Grownups Too Much Credit?


In a recent article in the New York Review of Books, Michael Chabon laments the loss of a sense of adventure in childhood. “If children are not permitted—not taught—to be adventurers and explorers as children,” he said, “What will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?”

But Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky at The Kenyon Review thinks Chabon might be giving the grown-ups a little too much credit:

“Chabon … may be right that all children are instinctively adventurers, and he’s certainly right that limiting their exploration of the world in the name of safety threatens their creative imagination.  But let’s be clear: the maps we draw for our children are not the maps that guide their lives.  They draw their own maps, but it’s a mistake to confuse them with the nostalgic – or anguished — images produced by adult memory.  Childhood is a foreign country to us.  We once knew its landmarks, but they’ve grown wild in our imaginations, so that the “adventures” we remember are now just stories we tell.  Adventure is what we call it when we show the slides.  The natives just call it life.”