Tuesday, 25 October 2016

To die will be an awfully big adventure: Peter Pan

Peter PanPeter Pan by J.M. Barrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was given me by Kunju Thalona. Bought from an old bookstall, the first inscription read 'Congratulations! Sanskrit Scholar!' Kunju had struck that off and had given me the book saying 'Good that you got the best actor award or else I forbid you to grow up. -love. She had inscribed a skeleton sign also. Scary. This was in 2008 September. I have forgotten what the best actor award was for, what play it was. But it is now, in 2016 that i read the book which began with its famous line 'All children, except one, grow up.' I knew all about Peter Pan and even remembering a question in a classroom quiz in degree course about it but being the procrastinator i am...Well, it was a wonderful read. Just the kind of little nice thoughts, a little sad too, which i wanted before the onset of winter in Kolkata.
...and her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right hand corner.
I immediately thought of her, pappu and baby and me.
He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss.

I had watched a film called 'Finding Neverland' which was on J.M Barry writing the book. It had moved me so. I remember crying a lot. I realized why the film was like that when i read the book. I have not read a children's book which has so much sadness in it, except may be for 'The Little Prince'. I was reminded of the film once again when during one of the author's interventions in the book he referred to Mrs. Darling thus
...Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her best.
Stars are beautiful but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder.

Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time.

'To die will be an awfully big adventure.'

And the best concept was that of a kiss which, for Peter became a thimble due to his characteristic ignorance of human vocabulary and ideas. When the time for them to part came
She [Wendy] had to take his [Peter's] hand, as there was no indication that he would prefer a thimble.
So when Peter sees Mrs Darling in the end of the book he remarks
Her mouth is full of thimbles, but not so full as my mother's was.
Of course he knew nothing whatever about his mother; but he sometimes bragged about her.

It goes without saying that like most authors during the time J.M Barry was carelessly sexist in his writing.
It was a girl called Tinker Bell exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to the best advantage. She was slightly inclined to embonpoint
Wendy, Tinker Bell and Tiger Lily all want peter's attention and love and are awfully jealous of each other.
Tink hated her [Wendy] with the fierce hatred of a very woman.
A little cinematic image in between. Of course the whole book is brilliant material for cinema.
...but as the little house disappeared in the forest, a brave though tiny jet of smoke issued from its chimney as if defying Hook.
That was Peter's cockiness. How nice. 

I did feel that for the sadness that the book carried, Tinker Bell would most definitely be made to die trying to save peter from Hook's poison. I even felt that that would have made a better script/story. The scene is quite a tear jerker without the death too.
Her wings would scarcely carry her now, but in reply she alighted on his shoulder and gave his chin a loving bite. She whispered in his ear 'You silly ass;' and then, tottering to her chamber, lay down on the bed.

And Wendy grown up? In a way only grown ups can be. The most intriguing part about the book is for me how everything that happens and are being described are jolly things, they are supposed to be happy children's things but they are always sad due to the writing.
She let her hands play in the hair of the tragic boy. She was not a little girl heartbroken about him; she was a grown woman smiling at it all, but they were wet smiles.
I think i have wet smiles now.

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