Stories involving saviours redeeming a community or a whole world have constituted a significant body of fantasy literature for children and young adults since the beginning of the 19th century.
The first part of this study (Part I: The Child Hero’s Journey) examines a corpus of 53 fantasy novels for children and young adults, starting in the Victorian Era and covering 154 years. The study establishes a poetology of the ‘child saviour’ motif, explores motifs connected to this basic pattern, and traces common tendencies and variations as well as intertextual and ‘metamythical’ links to pretexts. Moreover, the study examines the function served by the extended presentation of saviours and to what extent fantasy fiction for children and young adults differs from comparable works for adults.
The second part of the study (Part II: Applications to the Real World – Metaphorical Application and Externalisation) seeks to identify connections between the texts and the putative ‘real life experiences’ of their young readers. The values, world views and messages conveyed by the texts are investigated and the relationship between fantasy fiction and the ‘real world’ of the readership is revealed.