Maurice Sendak on ‘Bumble-Ardy’

Paris Review interview:

In reading Bumble-Ardy, I was reminded of that terrifying image from Outside Over There,
when the infant is being hauled out the window by goblins, replaced by a
horrible, uncanny ice decoy, while her older sister looks the other
way. Is Bumble another “ice baby,” another kind of living stillborn?

I hadn’t quite thought of it in those terms, but I like that
identification. It resembles what actually occurred to me as a child.
Terrible things happened and were not explained. My parents were
ignorant peasants from the old world. They came here and knew nothing.
My life in Brooklyn was in constant danger because of my bad health.
There was danger everywhere. The Lindbergh baby, the
hundred-million-dollar baby—there we were, potential victims, all of us.
Not even wealthy parents could protect their children. So what did kids
do? You had to form a kind of fake life, to protect yourself. Because
you learn very quickly that parents can’t protect you. It leaves a
lurking fear. You never feel safe, never believe, really, that your
parents are any safer than you, or could protect you from the unknown.


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