Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I came at this story from the memories of childhood (which liked the cartoon) and as an adult who has been told, over and over, that the actual tale isn't quite as good as they remember. So I was all, "Hey, should I even actually read it? Is it worth ruining happy memories?"
I finally decided to bite the bullet and shake Hook's hand.
At first, I was rather enamored of the Darling family and saw the adults having a bit of fun and making a few mistakes with their children but generally being delightfully in love with life. So it wasn't that big of a surprise when Wendy, already in love with Peter, took up with her brothers to fly away on some grand adventure.
So what's the big deal? Why would anyone not find this adorable?
WELL, for one, the novel is not only a delightful adventure for kids full of wonder and fun, but it's also a heartbreaking HORROR for adults. It's clear, right in the text, though with kid-gloves, that the nastiness of kidnapping, multiple murders, sheer heartlessness, the celebration of ignorance, and bloody-minded cockiness is the POINT of the tale.
Are all children such monsters?
Sure, it FEELS heartwarming, but only if we ignore the utter heartbreak when it comes to Wendy's feelings or her family. If we are unable to ignore it, then the last line in the book catapults the tale into a multi-dimensional masterpiece that evokes the core of Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience while cheering on a massive sociopath. And I'm not talking about Hook. And Wendy even GIVES HER OWN KID TO HIM!
But then, this is the horror of all adults. We must give our kids to the meat-grinder, no? And the kids dance blithely, with a song even, into its waiting maw.
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