Karoline Leach did only half of her homework. She read the literature on Lewis Carroll, but she did not read the literature on pedophilia.
As a result, she explains how Carroll's earlier biographers could have conspired to create an image of Carroll as a devotee of little girls. She does explain, however, how they could have created an image which so closely resembles such a devotee in real life.
Following is a list of traits which Lewis Carroll shared with the prototypical lover of children:
====identification with children====
On page 82, Leach takes a shot at William Empson, who wrote in 1935 in Aspects of Alice that Carroll identified with children. Yet in his latter years, Carroll often signed his name "Sylvie," Sylvie being the name of the child heroine in his last novel. So stated John Skinner, in an article in 1947 which was reprinted in 1964 in Psychoanalysis and Literature.
In 1930 in the International Journal of Psycho-analysis, and again in 1945 in his book, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis, Otto Fenichel wrote that girl-lovers tend to identify with girls.
You may say, "Empson wrote his article in 1935 and Fenichel wrote his article in 1930. Maybe Empson read Fenichel's article and slapped that trait onto Lewis Carroll."
That is possible, but here are some cases in which Carroll's biographers jumped the gun on the psychoanalytic writers:
====idealization of childhood====
Writers have commented on Lewis Carroll's tendency to idealize children. On pages 154, 183, and 215, Leach expreses a similar view.
In Image of Childhood, published in 1957, Peter Coveney quoted Carroll as writing about "the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood, when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names--empty words signifying nothing!" In Death of Narcissus, published in 1976, Morris Fraser, discussing the same topic, quotes the same passage.
It was not until 1990 that Segal & Stermac, writing in Handbook of Sexual Assault, commented on the tendency of pedophiles to idealize childhood.
Paul Schilder, writing in 1938 in Aspects of Alice, spoke of role reversal in Carroll's relationship with girls. Writing in English Language Notes in 1981, Donald Rackin discussed Alice's protective role to a bumbling knight who keeps falling off his horse.
In 1949, Sandor Ferenczi, wrote about role reversal in pedophile relationships in the International Journal of Psycho-analysis.
Finally, here are a few observations of my own:
====attraction to an androgynous image====
Lewis Carroll dedicated "The Hunting of the Snark" to a girl who was "Girt with a boyish garb for boyish task."
In 1962, J. H. Fitch wrote that girl-lovers tend to seek masculine traits in girls.
Leach spends an entire chapter (pp. 197-216) discussing Carroll's guilty feelings, and suggests that they might have come from sexual feelings. On page 214, she writes that children offer a "glimpse of innocence and beauty" which offer "a true, uncorrupting love." According to McGuire, Carlisle, & Young, writing in the 1965 issue of Behavioural Research and Therapy, this is exactly what pedophiles seek in children.
====attitude toward animals====
I. B. Weiner, writing in the 1962 issue of Psychological Quarterly, reported a finding that pedophiles tend to be attracted to small and docile animals whereas male homosexuals tend toward the reverse.
In Sylvie and Bruno, there is a chapter in which the narrator takes a walk through the woods with Sylvie, talking about hunters. In this conversation, Weiner's dichotomy becomes obvious.
====feeling of discomfort around other men====
Leach repeatedly tells us that Carroll associated with other adults, especially women. Yet if she studied the literature on pedophilia, she would know how strongly she was confirming that Carroll was a pedophile. In 1967, Kurt Freund wrote in Behavioral Research and Therapy that men attracted to children tend to feel uncomfortable around other adult males.
What could be Leach's motive for writing this book? Could she be seeking revenge against a predator in her own past? Probably. On pages 103-104, she argues, through a convoluted and fallacious syllogism, that an adult could ever feel attracted to children but conscientiously refrain from molesting them.
If Leach needs to resolve some tension left from her own childhood, I wish she could do it without rewriting history.