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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie 
8th-Aug-2006 09:55 pm
Hey, did you know that Barrie invented the name Wendy? I didn't. (^^; 'Course, if you name your child Wendy nowadays, you invite inevitable comparisons to the fast food chain...

Barrie, J. M. Peter and Wendy. 1911.
Summary: Peter Pan, the boy who never grows up, takes Wendy and her brothers John and Michael to Neverland. There, she becomes mother to Peter and his Lost Boys. However, after foiling Captain Hook's plot to capture Wendy and make the boys walk the plank, everyone returns home to grow up...except for Peter himself.
Comments: One of the best-known children's classics that rewards an adult readership. Though I find myself deeply offended by stereotypical depictions of women and American Indians (oddly, equally stereotypical depictions of pirates do not likewise offend me...must be Disney's fault) and Barrie's omniscient narrator reminds readers that this is after all pre-Modernist writing, the tensions between youth and adulthood are universal ones that never seem to be tapped out. Peter is the uncompromising child, Hook the disillusioned adult, and the rest of the children must find that happy medium (but, except for Wendy, seem to end up trapped in banal adulthood, anyway). Plus, the sexual tension between Peter and Wendy, apparently sublimated in the yearning for a "mother," will give budding psychoanalysts a field day. Readers familiar with Barrie's biography might find Peter's refusal to grow up rather disturbing--eternal child, pedophile, or maybe both...if that's possible...? Anyway, it's fascinating to see the original version of a story most children grow up knowing by heart.
Notes: trade paperback, Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Peter Pan
Rating: 6/10 - Plenty of food for thought, especially if you do an oppositional reading.
1st-Sep-2006 05:23 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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