Thursday, July 18, 2013

Peter Pan

Peter Pan  by J.M. Barrie
Peter Pan Wikipedia Page
Full text of book 

What a sweet and funny little book this is.  I saw Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp as Sir James Matthew Barrie and Kate Winslet as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, Peter's mother. Not only was it a lovely couple of hours spent with Johnny Depp, but it gave a much better understanding of Barrie and his vision.  Sadly, it also showed the tragedy of the real Peter because of the fictional one.  Barrie, however, writes with humor and tenderness, never talking down to children. He tells his tales from a child's perspective or with a child's sensibilities in mind, with no condescension.  I particularly loved this passage:
It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for the next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.  If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.

We all know the Peter Pan story, but reading it as an adult was sort of different.  As a child you are focused on the excitement and the adventure.  You are hearing tales that go right along with your wildest imaginings.  It's the ultimate escape. It's the possibility of being a kid and playing forever.

Rereading it as an adult you see how fragile and temporary childhood is. You are clearly aware of the fact completely more bittersweet than I remembered. You see that Wendy's mother knew and loved Peter as a girl. Then you see Wendy grow up and grow old and watch as her daughter takes her place. Peter's inability to remember her as she does him, is so sad. To be on the other side of childhood and read that story your heart has to break a little.

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