Mary_stephens's Reviews > Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
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Nov 16, 11


My mother read this story to me a child, and being a long-time Disney whore and Julie Andrews fan I can, of course, recite the movie. So now I read it as an adult.
There is something loverly about British children's literature. There is a timber to it that warms the heart. I'm not quite sure what it is. And this story combines that with the wonder and joy of Mary. But she isn't really the Mary Poppins all us little American kids know and love, is she? Travers's Mary was much more Victorian than Julie Andrews. She was a little harsher and more strict than the songbird we grew up with. Andrews never fully captured the vanity of her that Travers emphasizes.
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I originally began reading another edition - a revised edition from 1981. Curious as to what was revised, I sought out a version from the year it was first published - 1934. I ended reading an American printing, published in 1934 by Reynal & Hitchcock. As I'd expected, the changes had to do with racial ideas of the time. People from the four corners of the world (outrageous caricatures of people, really) were replaced with animals. This is not surprising. The southern people (a horrific cross of Southern American blacks with Islanders and Africans, all in a v. sambo presentation) alone are insulting even to a white girl like me, but not surprising. This is how a white person, particularly an Aussie and Brit, would see the world.
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