Books: A World Charged with Miracles

Fourteen volumes bring back the delights of childhood

Toward the end of his career, Picasso observed that it had taken him all his life to learn to draw like a child. It was one of the master's few unoriginal remarks Virginia Woolf, rereading Nicholas Nickleby in 1939, noted."Dickens owes his astonishing power to make characters alive to the fact that he saw them as a child sees them." And in his 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, André Breton declared, "Childhood is the nearest to true life."

In fact, every writer and painter recalls the power of...

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