My final introductory passage from my 1984 thesis is the one for Jane Louise Curry:
Jane Louise Curry is an American academic who has, since 1968, published many works of Fantasy for young readers. The majority of her works are intended for the age range between nine and fourteen, but one or two are for younger children from about seven. The works selected for close examination are the three novels that seem to me to illustrate most clearly the importance of the identity-maturity theme in Fantasy, and its relationship to the Quest motif.
Curry has brought together Amerindian and Celtic mythology, archaeology, history and legend with her own speculation, to build a complex mythical history that dates from before the beginning of the current age up to the nineteen-seventies. These stories always involve magic, many of them involve time-shift, and in most of them the race of Elves is featured, either as main characters in the story or as influences in the background. Through all of them, too, runs the theme of selfhood and identity, bound up with its related theme of duty and commitment. Curry weaves the themes so that the action is genuinely expressive of what is happening inside the young protagonist. She runs parallel strands of experience though all her stories. There is always a problem in the society depicted, a “real” problem which engages the adults but which the children alone fully perceive as being linked with an underlying supernatural situation. To select one example; the adults in Beneath the hill think they are facing the problem of the despoliation though modern technological methods of mining, of a beautiful tract of land. The children see the link between the greed of the modern contractors and the ancient spirit of evil that the elves tell them of. Family life and sociological trends in modern America are convincingly presented; yet there is also hauntingly beautiful evocation of the Otherworld of Celtic legend and enough blending to make it clear that experiences with that Otherworld stand in Curry’s novel, as they did in the ancient tales, for the experiences of the deeper levels of the mind. Faery is employed as a metaphor for the underlying states both of individual consciousness and of the social structure.
I have greatly edited this introduction, not just for length but because to my older self the tone seems alarmingly condescending. There needs to be a new TV series called ‘Who did you think you were?’
The original thesis can be read HERE