For some readers this book could be "the spoonful of sugar" that helps the medicine go down.And so as a way of introducing Science to the novice and/o For some readers this book could be "the spoonful of sugar" that helps the medicine go down.And so as a way of introducing Science to the novice and/or the Young, through humour and jokes and funny characters and equally funny illustrations, it would mostly be a Sure Thing.
However as I am a Mature Old Adult, it actually had the opposite effect - ie. metaphorically it usually caught in my throat and was difficult to digest. Children probably enjoyed what I merely disliked. The humour left me cold and was felt to be totally unnecessary. The facts alone intrigued me and kept my attention. No need really to share the Read with Oddblob from the Planet Blurb on his Adventure Tours and his tourist passengers the Snotties, an alien family from the Planet Slott, Slobslime and her baby Sloppy. In fact, they left me cold.
But I wouldn't hesitate to buy this book for the Kids. In fact, I have bought other books in this "Horrible" series for my nephews. Now they are ALL growed up, however, and more interested in Adult-Type versions of Space. No one seems to want to be a Peter Pan these days, that I know of any way. However I have read some historical "Horrible" books as a way of breaking the ice- ones about the Vikings and Shakespeare and the Victorians, as I'm certain the author, Nick Arnold, makes sure that all his information is well researched, and this is one reason I like these books VERY MUCH INDEED !!! and would usually give them 5 STARS. The illustrator, Tony de Saulles, is also to be congratulated for his well drawn and witty interpretation of the historical facts.
ALAS!!!...I DIDN'T BEWARE... rather I gorged on the food, music,scenic photos,Zorba,both film and novel!!!
...thus BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS !!!!!!
ALAS!!!...I DIDN'T BEWARE... rather I gorged on the food, music,scenic photos,Zorba,both film and novel!!!
...thus one day found myself cast upon barren shores and a polluted city. I scanned that rocky, barren, treeless landscape from ship and bus and car and tried to penetrate... what??...the Greek mind ?,the Ancient Greek mind?,the origins of their Gods? their myths? I had no idea where to start!! Athens was a loss. What was I doing here??...teaching English was only an excuse!! Where was the Inspiration of the Ancient Greek World,its myths, the music, whatever, that had silently seduced me?
I can't recall if I THEN recalled the Two Volumes of Barbara Leonie Picard's that a classmate had shown me at 15 years of age in our classroom... The Iliad and The Odyssey. I can recall THAT!!! THAT's where it started! That first meeting...with the Greeks!! I fell in love with the books' illustrations IMMEDIATELY...modelled on those found on ancient Greek pottery. And then I read them, those books!!! One day I would see the film "Helen of Troy" and be stunned again. Then the film "Zorba The Greek" added another layer..and who WASN'T seduced by THAT???? Finally,one day I would be living in a run-down pensione in Athens, at the end of Eolou Street where it melted into the Ancient World...and next door was a shop selling re-creations of urns, vases, plates,cups of that Ancient World, where I would go and glory in and drown myself in that strange and amazing World. Did I ever recall Barbara's books? I can't recall.I think not. But I can recall that we could see the Magnificent Fading Glory of the Parthenon seated like a crouching weathered Old Lion on the Acropolis...from our toilet window in our pensione home. Was that the Greeks' final joke ..or lesson? BOTH joke AND lesson...the Greeks did nothing by halves!!!
Happily Barbara's books contain nothing of the Homeric detail of the vivid and ghastly ferocity of a Greek v Trojan battles. (I read a Homeric one recently and felt sick.) Yes, it was a gentle seduction, followed up by High School Latin classes of Virgil's Aeneid and the cruel slaughter and destruction of Troy. It then became truly Classical. And it was here I first encountered, was tantalised by and forced myself, wonder of wonders, to learn off by heart these words:
"Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes." Virgil,"Aeneid" Bk.II Verse 48.
Whatsoever it is, I fear the Greeks and(especially) bearing gifts.
The Point of this review being:
Barbara's books are a good place to start to be seduced perhaps, but don't say I didn't warn you !!!! ...more
I inherited this book because it, and most of Virginia Haviland's "Told In..." books, were being chucked OUT of our School Library. I had witnessed theI inherited this book because it, and most of Virginia Haviland's "Told In..." books, were being chucked OUT of our School Library. I had witnessed the loss of so many Gems, mostly when I went to the library to borrow them. GONE !!! Fait Accompli !!!
Simply told and beautifully and amply illustrated. Great for less advanced readers. Great for me, who loves old tales, and where you can also get a look at early myths, early explanations of how the earth was made and where we came from etc. We now call it "Science" now, and it is no less, perhaps more, entertaining and wondrous.
Stories like these give you a Magic Portal into the minds and customs and beliefs of different peoples. So original and sometimes so familiar or resonant.
Having been introduced to the netsuke via "The Hare With Amber Eyes" by Edmund De Waal a couple of years ago, I stumbled across a collection of these netsukes in the Japanese Section of the Asian Collection at Sydney's State Art Gallery last year...2012.
Netsukes are small ivory or ebony carvings, used in Japanese dress as a toggle to prevent a pouch or other article, to which it is attached by a cord, from slipping through the girdle. My younger sister had visited Japan not long after the dreadful tsunami there, and had purchased a netsuke from an elderly vendor, and her choice of a dog and the price agreed upon had brought nodding approval from all the elderly gentlemen who had gathered to watch the sale. She too had read Edmund de Waal's wonderful book.
At the Gallery.... What a Thrill this was!!! They were laid out in neat rows...animals, people in various roles, seeds etc ...a Feast for the Eyes and Imagination. I was caught by one which I was sure must have had a story behind it: a small naked baby boy who was emerging from a peach, obviously just cut open. I read the story this morning, courtesy of Virginia Haviland, "Momotaro or Son of a Peach. The following and final story ...there are only Five...was titled "The Hare".
Animals are often a feature of Japanese Folk Tales. When the Peach Boy at 15 goes to fight an island of Devils, he is assisted by a dog, a monkey and a pheasant. Another "The Good Fortune Kettle" is about a badger, who turns himself into a beautiful magic kettle to reward the pedlar who has set him free from a trap. Kurosawa, the Great Japanese Film Director, made a beautiful and enchanting film of tales, which included many animals. One of a boy, who, although forbidden,went into the forest and witnessed the Wedding Parade of the Foxes. What a magic scene this was !!!
I recently read a larger volume of 30 tales titled "Japanese Fairy Tales" by Grace James from 1923 which included a longer version of this Magic Kettle Tale. And some Tales from this book had also turned up in a book of Japanese tales, again a little altered, retold by Lafcadio Hearne, the Greek/Irish writer/teacher, who finally lived in Japan, married and had children and is buried there. He is claimed as an American,as he briefly visited his brothers who had settled there.
P.S. By the way, I also salvaged "Told in ...England, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Russia" !!! Yes, Santa Claus...there IS a Virginia !!!...more
THE LUST FOR ALICE...lick your speculating chops!!!
This book is about one single photograph ostensibly. As well you get an excellent biography of Char THE LUST FOR ALICE...lick your speculating chops!!!
This book is about one single photograph ostensibly. As well you get an excellent biography of Charles Dodgson and a short but very absorbing history of the invention of photography by three men really. Still, it was difficult to grasp what the book was getting at...UNTIL!!!
REVELATION I UNTIL...the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...at the end of the book where the author,entertaining historian Simon Winchester, refers to "this photographic series" published by "the Oxford University Press." There is not a single reference ANYWHERE in this book, on its cover, on its endflaps, ZILCH, that there exists any so-called series. Perhaps it all flopped after this single production???
REVELATION II Also in the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Mr Winchester thanks one Cybele Tom "for suggesting the idea of writing the photographic backstory of the "Alice In Wonderland" saga."
and finally...lick your speculating chops!!!!
REVELATION III I think the "saga" refers to the inferred lust of Charles Dodgson alias Lewis Carroll for little children, namely little girls and especially ...Alice in Wonderland. Access obtained through the new craze of photography.
The end flaps refer to THE photo, (one of Alice Liddell dressed by her Mum in rags as Tennyson's poetic subject "The Beggar Maid for Charles to photograph) as "as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation." ( REALLY!!)
Winchester himself refers to "ankles in full view" (HORROR!!)"her feet are quite naked"(F--K"!!) "in a seductive pose" (NAUGHTY GIRL!!)"there is sufficent shoulder,ankle, and skin revealed about Miss Liddell to excite and, these days, to infuriate". (INCITING A MODERN WITCHHUNT??) And yet MORE :"there is her tiny left nipple."(Oh!!FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!!!)
So Wiley Winchester plants his little landmines in Chapter One by Page Nine. All the time well knowing what he will reveal in the second last chapter on page 76ff("a myth lately exploded" as he FINALLY puts it after encouraging the reader to entertain sordid thoughts for almost the entire opus)) what recent research has shown (that of Karoline Leach in 1999 no less), that "Charles Dodgson had as great a fondness for grown women as for children."
SUMMING-UP: For me this was an absorbing, curious but ultimately unsatisfactory and annoying book. Deliberately toying with Charles Dodgson's moral reputation for the sake of some 'narrative tension' is shabby in every way. But GREAT on biography and history of early photography...just ignore the gossip.
A story is only as good as its telling, and Washington Irving is indeed a Master Storyteller. Not consistently, but that has the virtue of making his clA story is only as good as its telling, and Washington Irving is indeed a Master Storyteller. Not consistently, but that has the virtue of making his classic stories shine ever more brightly. "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" are classics. With vivid main characters and rich,descriptive language they are a sheer indulgence of Wordsmanship. The other three stories are enjoyable enough but really their best purpose is in accentuating the brilliance of the former two. The Wordsworth Classic paperback has as well the Master Illustrator Arthur Rackham whose sketches of Rip van Winkle and Ichabod Crane especially MUST be the definitive versions and stand for ALL Time.
As a diversionary sidetrack and escape from the Heavy Highway of Culture and Thought, these are no less Masterpieces and 'Musts' for becoming a fully-rounded educated and happy reader.
I first came to King Arthur with a small book with the tales retold by Charles Kingsley. That sold me...for good.
Then I saw the MGM movie with RobertI first came to King Arthur with a small book with the tales retold by Charles Kingsley. That sold me...for good.
Then I saw the MGM movie with Robert Taylor as Sir Lancelot, Ava Gardner as Guinivere and Mel Ferrer, unkindly described as " a wet charge of powder " by one critic,as an idealistic but whimpy King Arthur. (But Stanley Baker made a superb villan.) Who cared!! In 1953 this was MGM's first Cinemascope production, even shot in England (with American accents.)
Years later I saw the Round Table itself in Winchester. (Cromwell's soldiers had taken potshots at it.) And visited the ruins on the English coast at Tintagel purported to be the remains of Camelot.
CAMELOT!!!Even Jackie Kennedy and her President were supposed to have recreated this mythical spot in Washington. Jack certainly did, screwing everything in a dress except a Scotsman. For there is a dark side. As the humanist educator Roger Ascham,(1515-1568) tutor to Elizabeth I, said in a more realistic fashion when referring to Sir Thomas Malory's "La Morte d'Arthur":"those be accounted the noblest knights that do kill the most men without any quarrel and commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts."(After all, the noblest knight did commit adultery with his King's Queen.) However Lerner and Loewe put that sordid tale to music and so to rest with their version of Camelot.
So, Unread, I have given this Malory abridgement 5 stars. Kingsley won me as a child and so NOTHING will UNconvince me that these are not the Very Best of Tales and I take only the Best from all those who offer their version. Washington was a travesty and a Total Make-believe. Arthur Rackham was a flawless illustrator. L and L's music is super. MGM was in colour and Cinemascope. Tintagel was windy, brooding and consequently suitably atmospheric. And these days adultery is OK if you're sincere, as I have absolutely no doubt Lancelot and Guinivere were. And anyway that story is more about Lancelot being unfaithful to ARTHUR!!!(Is there a mythical Gay Club undercurrent here as well!!???) Layers upon layers,methinks! Egad!!
Once I have read the two completions of Jane Austen's unfinished "Sanditon" - I've already read "Rebecca's TaHAVE ADDED A VIP Post Script!!!see below.
Once I have read the two completions of Jane Austen's unfinished "Sanditon" - I've already read "Rebecca's Tale", Sally Beauman's sequel to Daphne du Maurier's classic "Rebecca",(Goodness!!!Was that whirring sound dear Daphne spinning in her grave???)- I think I will get stuck into this sequel to "Wind in the Willows".And William Horwood has written not only one sequel but several!!A regular feast for the desperate lovers of the Original.(I may well be one of those!!) Then I have this feeling - call it "inspiration" - that I might be then ready to seize my pen and scribe a sequel to.......The Bible!!! In particular The New Testament. But first I've got to get my paws on this Willows in Winter. Shall be fun to be reunited with Rat ,Moley, Badger and...mmm, was NEVER overly fond of the deceitful Toad. A shame Kenneth won't be there. But I'm sure he's too busy spinning. And not thread!!!
PS. Just remembered that Beatrix Potter ,no less, wrote a prequel to "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat" by Edward Lear. The book, much larger than her familiar pocket size classics,(this one has eight chapters), was published in 1930. But Beatrix was originally inspired in 1883 when aged only 17 while on a family seaside holiday at Ilfracombe in Devon where the long flight of stairs leading down to the harbour gave her the idea for a story. That story was "The Tale of Little Pig Robinson", and she was still developing its ideas in 1901 and 1902!!She sketched a number of seaside towns for her tale including Lyme Regis in Dorset where Jane Austen holidayed and set a dramatic scene for her novel "Persuasion" and the high sheds for drying nets came from Hastings in Sussex where Inspector Foyle made his contribution to WWII. The story explains exactly how that pig from Lear ended up on a tropical island and the Pussy-cat who helped him to seek refuge there may well be the one whose marriage ceremony he performed there 18 months after his arrival. ...more
This makes a breezy but interesting read between the heavier tomes. And it is so informative. I especially like the fact that he mentions people who geThis makes a breezy but interesting read between the heavier tomes. And it is so informative. I especially like the fact that he mentions people who generally NEVER make it into the pages of the majority of history books AND facts too! eg.Agnes Ellyot of Sussex who went to a water pit at 4am on a winter morning and fell in.Young girls drowned in wells and ponds while fetching water, making death by drowning the largest cause of death for women of the Elizabethan era and into the 1700's.In the Middle Ages it was fire that killed women until better fireplaces made women safer.
And though I've read several books about Elizabeth I, I did not know that needing to build up her supply of skilful sailors and ships, she passed a cunning law: that no meat was to be consumed in England on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.Because of this law people ate fish instead which created a demand for fisherman and boat builders - a ready source of recruits for the slave trade, wars etc. Clever Lizzie!!!
Only drawback is the pretty constant Horrible Stuff!!!
This book is rather subversive too...not too reverential about the royals, businessmen, employers and the wealthy. And very Pro- children, women, the working class, animals and anti-war. I grew fonder and fonder of Terry Deary and his horrible books! ...more
Prelude: This series, Walker Illustrated Classics, is supposedly for children!! But why let them have ALL the fun???!!!?? I've been buying multiple copiePrelude: This series, Walker Illustrated Classics, is supposedly for children!! But why let them have ALL the fun???!!!?? I've been buying multiple copies of their superbly illustrated (by Inga Moore) "Wind in the Willows" for my adult friends who don't have to have "adult" covers on their 'children's' books to read what they love in public.(Pooh on Harry Potter!!!) This one has been "cut to the bone" to quote Jan Needle(male)who did the cutting for children and for adults like me who wonders whether he has long enough to live to read Melville's genuine Opus Magnus. But I do have time to read this and relish the superb illustrations by Patrick Benson. Walker's Classic Poetry is selected by Michael Rosen, a stalwart, and Paul Howard has done more surpassing illustrations.
Post-Prelude to come!!!
THE REVIEW: Begin a Ten Week series of lectures on American Literature at the Art gallery of New South Wales, Sydney on Friday 11th March 2011.Happily the lectures are spread over the next 4 months, so one has time to read EVERYTHING!!!...or so we hope!!!
The first lecture deals with Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" and Melville's "Moby Dick".
This is a heavily illustrated abridged children's version, if such a thing is possible. The illustrations are very informative re the times and whale hunting. The text from the original so one gets the real flavour of Melville. Abridged,so one has the time to get an overview when a literature course is breathing down your neck. I have the original, which is as big as a whale, and hopefully, appetite now whetted,I will find time and motivation to tackle the adult version and sink my teeth deeper into its mysteries and profundities and philosophical turns. Somewhere I read that the novel is really an encyclopedic entry on whale-hunting dressed up as a novel. If so, I found both genres beautifully blended. The archaic spelling, language and punctuation just added to the flavour as true spices and sauces should.
The bite-sized addicted and instant gratification people on Goodreads will have declared this Magnus Opus "BORING", as they usually do. Thankfully you will ALL be dead when Melville's book will still be swimming on. A delightful vision.
Now on to the unabridged, illustration-lacking, much shorter pot-boiler of Mr Nathaniel Hawthorne. I've already begun and it ain't bad at all!!!
It is a privilege to read these stories, myths, explanations of their world, the World of the Pahute Indians of Utah.
And the only reason we have them It is a privilege to read these stories, myths, explanations of their world, the World of the Pahute Indians of Utah.
And the only reason we have them is, not surprisingly, because of a human relationship, that of the writer or recorder,William R. Palmer, with a group of Pahute Elders.They grew to trust him and so decided to entrust him with their heritage.
The final chapter entitled Pahute Indian Astronomy is humbling as it is with many Ancient Peoples who were expert astronomers. We watch the bright light of Television.In their times they watched and interpreted and strived to understand the stars.Can you imagine their luminosity in those darkest of nights!!! Here we are privileged to see evidence of one of the beginnings of science.
The stories are usually titled along the lines of eg., 'Why the North Star Stands Still" or eg.,How The Seasons Were Set. Many concern animals and tribal customs. As with our most familiar Western myths, the Story of Our First Parents, Adam and Eve, their creation and how evil entered our world, we can only admire the ingenuity and often wisdom of the storytellers....more
I already have a "Wind in the Willows" on Goodreads. Illustrated by E.H.Shepard. Famous, because PERFECT, illustrations.
But I bought this one because ofI already have a "Wind in the Willows" on Goodreads. Illustrated by E.H.Shepard. Famous, because PERFECT, illustrations.
But I bought this one because of its superb illustrations by Inga Moore. So akin to Shepard's in spirit ...yet original!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Far more detailed...the fabrics of the comfortable armchairs at Badger's house; the delicacy and flourishing Springtime of the English countryside; the narrow cobbled main thoroughfare of an English village with chimneypots jutting up from orange tiled roofs,the Red Lion Inn and its heavily timbered exterior, and opposite Tudor homes with their black wooden stripes and jutting out windows made up of multisquares of glass all framed, and as the road winds a distant glimpse of the stout square tower of the ancient church; Toad's sumptuous four-poster bed, elaborately carved and draped with rich-red curtains fringed in gold and golden tassles as well; the wintry countryside at evening with stars as bright and as white as snowflakes and the dwarfed figures of Mole and Ratty trudging across a snowy field while a huge tree spreads its delicately laced branches overhead. This will be an absolute JOY to reread yet again.
I have made it my business to look at numerous copies of this book and seen some dogs of illustrations which would force you to read with your eyes closed. And that's NO WAY to read a favourite!!!!! Unfortunately this is abridged.But it has two year's worth of illustrating industry put into it - so saved by a stroke of the pen.
I first read this in 1954 when I was possessed by the "Peter Pan" Craze created by Walt Disney's Film. The Saturday paper was retelling the story in I first read this in 1954 when I was possessed by the "Peter Pan" Craze created by Walt Disney's Film. The Saturday paper was retelling the story in cartoon form from the same movie and you could buy the Disney colour comic book as well.For my 7th Birthday, Mum and Dad gave me my first Hardback novel,"Peter Pan and Wendy", Disney illustrated of course, abridged from Barrie's original.
BUT...here's that nasty qualifying word again...all was not well in Pan World. Firstly I often asked my Mum,"Why didn't you call me 'Peter'?" The book was a bit saccharine and didn't seem to reflect the spirit of the movie at all. And the Final Disappointment was that no matter how many times my older sister and I launched ourselves from the arm of the settee flapping our arms, we never managed to FLY !!!!! However I remained faithful to the Disney image.
Watching the Disney film as an adult,I was staggered at how sexist it was, especially in the way Peter treats and speaks to Wendy. But this is also in the book, and Peter's faults are openly mentioned by the author.
Recently on a Book Review TV Program "Peter Pan " was one book chosen to be read and discussed. It was met with rapturous reviews.The panel found it had undisclosed depths. I DECIDED TO REREAD it, realising I had never really read it at all.
Purchasing : I wanted an illustrated version but without the Disney illustrations. I'd become familiar with others of more artistic merit and depth, 'authentic' ones, but still a great fondness for the Disney cartoons.
I bought THREE books with the unabridged text!!!! An Oxford edition, containing the earlier and briefer "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" with no illustrations but many informative notes. A hardback used with this review for it's illustrations which I'm not mad about. And finally a Perfect Third - a slim, almost pocket sized edition, from Collectors Library, with two excellent illustrators, sadly uncredited, one each for the earlier and later works.
READING SO FAR: Pleased to say I'm devouring Barrie's book...even the sugary bits!! I'm more open to varied styles since 1954 !!! They help to create a more distant world. Other items one might find more difficult to accept or otherwise,eg. boys being preferred to girls; more openness about death especially with children.
I wonder how easily 20th/21st Century children would cope with this more complex text in regard to more difficult vocabulary, longer sentences, more frequent use of clauses, a totally different approach to characters. I wonder how much our children are being dumbed down in ALL regards. Happily I now enjoy exposure to different styles, to different times, and the reality of varied customs and manners. This story has The Lot as will most books which can boast over one hundred years since their publication. But I am an older adult. However I trust that keen young readers will enjoy the Novelty that a book like this can lay on with a trowel.
I am continuing my re-read with Great Pleasure !!!!
Anyone who addresses his stepdaughter as 'O my Best Beloved' just has to be putting it on!!!Or has a slight touch of the "Lolitas"!!
And the same goesAnyone who addresses his stepdaughter as 'O my Best Beloved' just has to be putting it on!!!Or has a slight touch of the "Lolitas"!!
And the same goes for these very cutsie "myths" which are pretty trite when set against real myths where ancient peoples tried to explain the wonders and mysteries and significant phenomena of their worlds.These ancient stories have lasted because they were worth retelling.They were never published but handed on and polished over centuries. Kipling's have NOT and it is painfully obvious.
His very ugly illustrations do little to enhance any attempt at charm.
I can fully understand the nostalgia of those introduced to these tales when young.The first exposure to these explanatory types of myth would be hugely impressive. But let me tell you:"Youse were robbed!!" It has been done before by the Genuine Article. Being Australian I have read and heard told many of the Aboriginal myths about the native animals,plants,landscape, moon and stars of this Island Continent.These myths are on a philosophical, mystical, religious level. Kipling's are garbage by comparison. Myths are serious business.They can be tough,tragic,witty and wise...Shakespearean, perhaps. In Kipling's hands he practically disrespects and trivialises the genre, with his condescension and infantile language "errors". Is this really surprising from someone who was part of the British Raj?
LATER: Ghandi's followers one day complained that the previous day he had preached the exact opposite to what he had just told them today!!Nonplussed, Ghandi replied that he had a perfect right to reconsider and to change his mind!!! So...being nonplussed, after venting my spleen above, I climbed into bed and finished "Just So Stories' with the last three tales...and began to reconsider!!!
The illustration to "The Cat That Walked by Himself" is superb. The best I can say about the others is alot indeed: they are NOT sentimental which in my books is far,far worse than "ugly"!!! But, they are still ugly. 'Cept the cat one. So: Well Done, Kippers!!!
Did you like my "cept"? A cutsie language disease I got from Kippers. His memorable ones were 'citing (read "exciting) and 'satiable curtiosity - ( a lisp followed up by a deliberate mispronunciation there!); and 'Scuse me (both from The Elephant's Child"). Verbosity such as "a man of infinite-resource-and sagacity" was probably NOT so verbose in Kipper's day. But with the present decline of language skills and the dumbing down of readers and their teachers, I wonder not which child, but which adult/parent reader could "splain to their Little Treasure, "sagacity".? OK, we can tolerate these cutsie slips but again they may keep the adults happy _ every Children's Classic has a Happy Parent Reader leading the way - but what about the kids??? Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton never ever won a Children's Book Award. But Kippers won,in 1907, the NOBLE PRIZE FOR LIT for god's sake!!!!(Even Tolstoy missed out to some nonentity, which Kippers has in some areas become.)
I enjoyed these last two pseudo-myths or pourquoi tales of Kippers ie.The Cat and The Crab one. Then wondered if he was RETELLINGing some Indian myths!!! One critic thought he may have been influenced by the forms and patterns of traditional pourquoi stories (those that explain, whoops! 'splain, why something is the way it is, a kind of parody of the Lamarckian theory of heredity, which even Darwin indulged in.) And/or the Jakata Buddhist Tales where Buddha undergoes rebirths as animals and learns wisdom. Highly probable. Perhaps. But then I wonder just HOW interested Ole Kippers was in the Indian culture that surrounded him. His Irish-boy hero Kim is more Indian than the Indians(they couldn't even do that properly! Kim after all supports the Raj - some Indian!!!); and another one, Gunga Din IS Indian true-blue but just aspires to be a little British.(Oh, dear!) We had to wait until someone like Ruth Prawer Jhabvala came along. She defied George Moore's spot-on contemporaneous criticism of Kipling: "Mr.Kipling has seen much more than he has felt", with her novels, like "The Householder." But I'm sure Kipling was an original and so persisted in this virtue, so no retelling for him. But this is only a "thought". On the whole he tells a good myth, its just too cutesy for me. I prefer the retelling of the Australian Aboriginal Myths by Dick Roughsey the Aboriginal illustrator and Percy Trezise who has a special affection for the aborigines of Cape York Peninsula and is an anthropologist, conservationist, historian, World War II fighter pilot, explorer, writer and artist.Have yet to discover if Goodreads has heard of these children's storytellers!!!(I have just checked and YES!!!Well Done Goodreads.Put in 'Percy Trezise' and you'll get a list.My favourite-"The Quinkins".)
Henry James was only one of many contemporary writers who had high hopes of Kippers.James hoped for a new Balzac! But James finally recognised "how little of life he can make use of." And his progress as James reluctantly finally stated "has come steadily from the less simple subject to the more simple." His "Plain Tales from the Hills" still deliver a punch and are among the Great short stories. But they are remarkably detached and unfeeling. One critic has stated that Kipling's rapturous reception onto the Literary Stage was because he allowed the British to feel good about feeling bad about feeling good about their 'doings' on the Great Sub-Continent.
I have two books of short stories waiting in the wings I am eager to devour...written by no less than Kippers himself. One contains 13 tales from four of his many published volumes:"The Day's Work"(1889),"Life's Handicap"(1891),"Many Inventions"(1893) and "Traffics and Discoveries" (1904). I don't think there is one Raj story among them. The other book of 14 stories are ALL set in the Raj and none from his first and famous volume "Plain Tales from the Hills".So this will be a treat. On order, the 2000 biography of over four hundred pages by Harry Ricketts - "Rudyard Kipling, a Life". I am a critic but I'm also a fan!!! Happy Kipling!!
PRELUDE; A few weeks ago went to see the film of the Royal Ballet dancing several Tales of Beatrix Potter. The ballet choreographed by Frederick AshtonPRELUDE; A few weeks ago went to see the film of the Royal Ballet dancing several Tales of Beatrix Potter. The ballet choreographed by Frederick Ashton with music, really delightful, by John Lanchbery was first made into a film some years ago.This recent production was filmed in the actual theatre. There were only two of us in the movie theatre.I was sitting right at the back and was sorely tempted to get up and dance to my heart's content across the large open area behind the last row of seats. I didn't but I did cavort round the house when I got home and played the music. I came to Beatrix Potter late, about age 31.(It's never TOO late!!) Took a break from my job in Athens to join my Mum and Step-father in a motoring holiday around the U.K. Was reading BP's biography by Margaret Lane - an excellent one. And so of course when we hit the Lake District we ended up at her wonderful house left exactly as she had left it. Mum photographed me standing in the doorway where BP had her photo taken.(I knew because the photo was in the book!!) Later Mum was to run around the moors on the edge of Haworth crying out "Heathcliff!!Heathcliff!!!"in a much darker literary clime. After which we got caught in a Yorkshire storm and staggered into our hotel dying of laughter, while my step-father gave us fierce disapproving looks which made us laugh all the more.(He WAS an Accountant, and I'm sure had NEVER read a Beatrix Potter!!) So now I am going to read first the several Tales that were recreated for the ballet. And then follow up with ALL the rest. Ah, blisssssss!!!
MUCH LATER: Now aged almost 62, short of a couple of weeks, I have read All the Tales in Chronological Order. And discovered that Beatrix has a Dark Side!!!(Scarey!!!) In the VERY FIRST story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit", Mrs Rabbit tells her children where they may and may not go, warning them off Mr.McGregor's garden :"...your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs McGregor."(Ouch!!There goes Junior's slumberful night!) Often Beatrix's Own Inspirations didn't live to tell their Tale. Mr Jeremy Fisher - dissected. Peter Rabbit - death by chloroform, followed by dissection and drawn for illustrative purposes. Jemima Puddleduck - ditto. And Squirrel Nutkin shot - at Beatty's request for drawing. And Guess Who performed the dissections. (Not a question!)
Is it surprising then, given the blood on Beatty's hands, that every Tale has at least one sentence that lets Junior know all is NOT well with the World. Life itself is under threat. Even if its just Ginger, (the cat who shared ownership of the popular village shop with Pickles the terrier, popular because it gave generous credit), who had to ask Pickles to serve their mouse customers because they made his mouth water. ("I cannot bear to see them going out at the door carrying their little parcels," he confessed.) Pickles had to make a similar confession about rats, but being a Realist added:"..but it would never do to eat our own customers; they would leave us and go to Tabitha Twitchet's."(The cat whose shop did NOT give credit.)Being much more of a realist, which one would expect of a cat, Ginger replied gloomily: "On the contrary,they would go nowhere." Ginger"s and Pickle's business finally collapses because of their customers' greed( ALL characters from the Tales I am shocked to tell you!!!).They NEVER paid a penny, so poor Ginger and Pickles were forced to eat their own goods...but never laid claw or tooth on their clientele, to their credit.(No pun intended, I assure you!)Pickles became a gamekeeper and Ginger went to live on the warren and became stout and comfortable. Would it surprise you to learn that a warren is a place where rabbits abound? Although Miss Potter tells us:"I do not know what occupation he pursues", her drawing shows Ginger laying nasty traps with big metal teeth - on the warren!!!(Miss Potter's illustrations often convey information she does NOT provide in the text!!)And Miss Tabitha Twitchett put up all her prices and refused to give credit!!!!!
After this Tale of 1909 Miss Potter's Tales just get nastier and nastier. They are thrilling and delightful!! I'm sure All those Edwardian era Mums and Dads had no idea what subversiveness and violence was being smuggled into Junior's nursery under innocent covers. By 1912 Miss Potter had declared that she was tired of writing: "goody goody books about nice people." No wonder World War One broke out only a couple of years later. And yet the History Books never mention Miss Potter as one of the chief underlying causes. Feminism has a lot to answer for.
EPILOGUE: Miss Potter knew a lot. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder??? Tom Kitten,victim of the rat, Anna Maria, who tied him up; and her husband, Mr.Samuel Whiskers, who helped her encase him in dough to be cooked and eaten.Poor Tom is rescued just in time. But ever afterwards "he has always been afraid of a rat; he never durst face anything that is bigger than - a mouse!" And I doubt any sensitive reader will either. Except the Insensitive who will no doubt join the Army.