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The Natural, Suffering, and Perfected Child: Ageless Children’s Literature and Heidi

Literature is read and loved because it has that beautiful way of shining light on the mysterious ways of our being. It helps us to become reflective and thoughtful people as we glimpse the varied trials of humanity. These trials elicit from us compassion, sorrow, gratitude, admiration, and perhaps most importantly a sense of kinship. I start with these few comments on the general nature of literature because I find I cannot take for granted that people hold this understanding in common. There is, at times, a dismissal of literature (it is just entertainment), a suspicion of literature (it is imaginative and therefore false), and a refusal of literature (it is just never picked up). But our stories, which is what the best of literature is, tells us who we have been, who we are, and who we can be for better or for ill. These stories encourage us, comfort us, and warn us. Often they are the same story told over and over again. Indeed, it has been said that there really is only one story and that is the story of our life in relation to God.

In Heidi, Johanna Spyri, tells this story in repeating harmonic patterns.


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