Metamorphosis in Two Novels by Melvin Burgess: Denying and Disguising ‘Deviant’ Desire
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Melvin Burgess has gained a reputation as an enfant terrible, whose writing tackles topics and presents attitudes which are controversial in literature for adolescents. Kimberley Reynolds cites him as an author whose work demonstrates that “writing about sex, sexuality and relationships between the sexes [is] one of the most radically changed areas in contemporary children’s literature.” Reynolds argues that novels depicting teenage sexuality no longer focus on socialising teenagers into adult-approved behaviours. Yet changes in literature are never fully “radical”; they always build on established traditions. This article examines the ways in which Burgess uses the motif of animal transformation in Tiger Tiger and Lady: My Life as a Bitch to maintain the prevailing view of adolescent carnality as a deviant variation of “proper,” adult sexuality, whilst celebrating early sexual experiences.
KeywordsMelvin Burgess Sexuality Metamorphosis Shape shifting Animal imagery Adolescence
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