Freud in the Night Kitchen

When Maurice Sendak’s now classic children’s book Mickey in the Night Kitchen was released in 1970, it caused a scandal. Its protagonist, a young boy, is bare naked throughout the book, amidst a landscape phallic milk bottles and free-flowing liquids. Parents cried pornography. Armchair psychologists jumped to analyze its Freudian subtext. But the kids? They just laughed.

In this Popcast, we play you excerpts from Sendak’s 1970 conversation with legendary interviewer Studs Terkel. Sendak balks at the idea of writing down to kids. In fact, Sendak thinks it’s the kids who have “crap detectors” that allow them to tap into the real spirit of his books. Together, Sendak and Studs consider that it’s the adults who can’t understand children’s literature, and not the other way around.

Hear the full interview in The Studs Terkel Radio Archive collection on Pop Up Archive, from The WFMT Radio Network: https://www.popuparchive.com/collections/938/items/37552