The Hellhole

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Several times over the last few months, as it's come up in conversation, Alan has mentioned how much he loved The Wind in the Willows as a kid, reading it over and over - how it never got old or boring, and was just as enchanting when he read it as a teen as when he was in elementary school. So I decided to get him a copy as a surprise, no-occasion present.

I wanted a hardcover and I wanted one with lovely illustrations. After careful consideration, I chose this version, as apparently many editions out there nowadays are abridged. One abomination eliminates Pan from the text entirely - tell me, how do they find Baby Otter without The Piper At The Gates of Dawn? [famous album reference, anyone? anyone?] And even if they do, it eliminates one of the most emotional, magical, fantastic moments of the story! The same version disarms the stoats and weasels, who no longer have pistols and cudgels. Way to wussify a classic, y'all.

Alan is very pleased with his gift and has been reading as eagerly as Mister Toad with a new motor-car the last two evenings. If you have children you want to enjoy this wonderful story, or would like to revisit a moment from childhood yourself, I highly recommend the version I purchased: same complete magical story that Alan & I both loved as children with delightful full-color illustrations, not just plates delineating chapters but smaller drawings interspersed throughout the text.

Interesting fact: The Wind in the Willows was first published in 1908, over 100 years ago, and it has never once been out of print. Not even for a moment - which is how it should be.

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!

Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!

Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim--
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.

Everyone for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!

High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call--
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!

7 Comments:

  • Wonderful! I loved WITW myself..and no, I wasn't there when it was published originally...

    The reference is King Crimson, I'm sure but what album? dunno

    mom

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:43 AM  

  • Nope, Pink Floyd's incredible 1967 debut album. And no, I wasn't there when it was released originally...
    :-)

    By Blogger Helly, at 9:18 AM  

  • PINK FL... ah, crap!
    -Sandy (big floyd fan when I was 16)

    By Blogger Topcat, at 11:01 AM  

  • I love children's books and stories, especially ones so beautifully written.

    By Anonymous Inna, at 8:52 AM  

  • Maybe I'll have to look at this book again... I never really liked it as a child -- I don't think I ever finished it.

    Afton

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:43 PM  

  • I am forced to admit that of all the times I've read "Wind in the Willows" (and oh, what a wonderful story it is, you're right), I've never seen an illustrated version. Apparently I was just always looking in the wrong place. The current dog-eared paperback I have has none.

    Will have to find one now!

    cheers,
    Phil

    By Blogger Phil, at 6:54 AM  

  • I kinda wanted to find Alan the illustrated version I grew up with - which I still have, it's just in storage with 1500 other books waiting for our move which I am beginning to believe will never happen, but mine was hardcover too, much smaller book than the one I just got for him, with some GREAT illustrations. There's one of Toad when he dresses as the washerwoman with this totally smarmy smile on his face and an expression of mien and eyes of total supplication - it is a perfect summation of the entirety of the character in just a few brush-strokes. Brill.

    By Blogger Helly, at 10:11 PM  

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