En röd ballong: Om sexualitet som åldersöverskridande erfarenhet i Kerstin Thorvalls mellanåldersböcker

Maria Jönsson


Title: A Red Balloon: On Sexuality as a Boundary-Crossing Experience in Terms of Age in Kerstin Thorvall's Children's Novels

This article discusses how feelings about and experiences of sexuality and pleasure are depicted in children’s books by Swedish author Kerstin Thorvall. It is well known that Thorvall wrote about sexuality in an outspoken and unconventional way for adults in the 1970s. Less known is that she already had touched upon these topics in her novels for young children in the 1960s and early 70s. This article analyses four of those children’s novels and argues that one has to use a broad definition of sexuality in order to capture the way children´s literature articulate erotic experiences. Hélène Cixous’ concept of “feminine jouissance” is therefore used to analyse the way Thorvall writes about lust and pleasure. This “feminine jouissance” is not directed towards a specific person or centered on specific parts of the body (as is the “masculine monosexual jouissance” according to Cixous) but is instead directed towards a variety of objects and centred on the whole body, involving all senses. The article also investigates how the relation between adult (hetero)sexuality and children’s imagined innocence is challenged in Thorvall’s writings, drawing on Tison Pugh’s queer theoretical study from 2010 on heterosexuality in children’s literature. Thorvall’s depiction of sexuality crosses boundaries between adults and children – and between adult literature and children’s literature – since the language used to express pleasure is the same whether Thorvall writes for young people or adults.


Kerstin Thorvall; children’s sexuality; feminine jouissance; age; queer; heterosexuality; innocence; pleasure; Hélène Cixous; queer attachments

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14811/clr.v40i0.286


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Barnboken – Journal of Children's Literature Research eISSN 2000-4389
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