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Ward of the State; The Gap in Ella Fitzgerald's Life

Nina Bernstein

1996

Those literary orphans who aren’t totally crushed by their own predicaments may find themselves freed of any limitation whatsoever. They transform. Starting as J. M. Barrie’s “children who fall out of their perambulators when the nurse is looking the other way,” they turn into the Lost Boys! Moll Flanders becomes American; Helen Oyeyemi’s Snow White becomes African-American. Orphans discover that they’re the scion of a wizardly family, Kal-El of Krypton, the last of the Jedi, or the mother of the Kwisatz Haderach. They seize their birthrights by the hilt to become Arthur, the Once and Future King.

The literary orphan belongs to no world except that of narrative opportunity.