December 1, 2019 0

The Wind in the Willows

By in ballpoint pen, Book Reviews, color

I’m finishing off The Wind in the Willows. Very curious book. I remember it being read to me in class when I was tiny, and at that age I didn’t always get all of what was being read or shown to me. Such as when I was watching the movie Mary Poppins, which I loved. But what was a Suffragette, or a run on the bank? I just thought they were excuses for dressing up, or going crazy.

Anyhow, the lesson I learned from The Wind and the Willows long ago was that stoats and weasels were evil, and Mr. Toad was a wild adventurer and hero. Maybe in his own mind. Re-reading it now, Mr. Toad is a horrible aristocrat, stuffed with upper class privilege, who steals a poor person’s horse, not to mention someone else’s car, and escapes from prison. Truly a first-class felon, and egotist. The book explores this a bit. I suppose I identify most with the Mole, who is everyman, or every-animal. My favourite character is Badger, who in the movie I think would be played by the deep-voiced Christopher Lee, in his non-villainous aspect.

I’m not really sure how animals fit into this world. In the illustrations that came with my e-book, they are naturalistic, naked and almost natural size. Maybe a little larger so that they show up. But I think of them more as English gentlemen (no ladies in this story), wearing animal heads. At least person-size Beatrix-Potter type creatures who move in the world of Edwardian England just as most human being did. As I child I took this for granted. As an adult I seem to need more explanations. Which are boring.

So I’m moving forward through the book, into the last part where I’m sure the nasty stoats and weasels will be defeated. One thing I’m not fond of is how certain creatures can get an evil reputation simply because they don’t look as pretty as others. Opossums and hyenas, for instance. I want to see virtuous examples of those, just like there could be mean-spirited elves or honest orcs in a Tolkien-type story. I think I’ll look at Charlotte’s Web next. I’m enjoying these old kids’ stories, which are not really just for kids.

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