The Nattering Class
4

The End Of The Wunderkind

The word wunderkind was dragged, politely, into usage by that great plodder George Bernard Shaw to note that every age manages to season its offspring with instantaneous genius; Mozart is not a singularity. And for decades after, "wonder child" happily stayed within the safe semantic confines of age and the arts. Which was nice for the rest of us. You couldn’t be a wunderkind, without being a kind; you were not to be wundered at if you couldn’t perform some great musical, or perhaps painterly, feat. Then, in 1972, the New Yorker—channeling the emergence of youth culture the decade before—pushed the watershed and gave the kids some breathing space to [...]