Hugh Lofting

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Twayne Publishers, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 188 pages
Hugh Lofting (1886-1947) is best known for his classic series of children's books depicting Doctor Dolittle - the kindhearted, eccentric veterinarian whose ability to converse with animals and whose astounding travels with a cadre of critters have delighted readers for more than 70 years. Beginning with The Story of Doctor Dolittle in 1920, Lofting went on to write eleven other Dolittle books, among them the Newbery Medal-winning The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. While critics have praised the Dolittle books for their humor, wit, and imagination, and while the Dolittle character has captivated audiences in screen and stage adaptations, Lofting's larger message - one concerning issues of peace and justice - has often been overlooked. That Lofting's work deserves reconsideration is the thesis of this new study by Gary D. Schmidt. Drawing on not only extensive research but also numerous personal communications with Lofting's family members, Schmidt provides fresh insights into his subject's life and work. In clear, engaging prose Schmidt argues that Lofting viewed his writing as a political and moral task: to encourage peace by providing children with examples of kindness, gentleness, compassion, and tolerance. In an illuminating first chapter readers learn intriguing biographical information - for instance, that The Story of Doctor Dolittle, perhaps Lofting's greatest work, had its beginnings in a series of story-letters that Lofting, writing from the trenches of World War I, sent home to his children. Subsequent chapters examine each of the Dolittle books, as well as Lofting's lesser-known works, among them the essay "Children and Internationalism" and the long poem Victory for the Slain. An important addition to existing studies in children's literature, Hugh Lofting will appeal to scholars, students, and general readers alike. Included are a preface, chronology, notes, bibliography, and index, as well as illustrations.

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle and The Voyages of Doctor
Variations on Theme and Structure
The Culmination of the Dolittle Series

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