Friday, April 24, 2009

Peter Pan

Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie
276 pages
Classic, Fantasy, Fiction
Published in 1911

Peter Pan is the tale of a boy who finds the fountain of youth located on the 'second star to the right and straight off 'till morning'. That place is Neverland. In Neverland there are adventures to be had, and it is the dreamiest world to be for any young boy, because it contains all the fantasies with none of the responsibilities of getting older. Peter and the lost boys fight pirates, they can fly, they magically have food to eat and they get to run around with real swords and weapons! There is never a bedtime to be kept, no rules, no nagging or chores to do, there is time for everything in a life free of cares and hardships.

When Peter brings in Wendy and her siblings though, things start to get funky. The lost boys begin to dream of the mother they have never had, of a mother who loves them. For a while Wendy fills this role, but then she too misses her own mother.

Peter Pan is certainly a classic worthy of all the hype as it has graced the stages from Broadway to Disney, to Hollywood, to so many different book publishers who hope to carry on this glorious favourite. I think somewhere in marketing however has made a mistake. I believe the story should not be marketed towards children, as they have yet to know what the abandoning of youth really means, but that it should be read more often by adults. Kids grasp the fun that this Neverland world would be, but neglect to see the implications of living there forever.

I don't cry when I read books, so I was astonished when I cried in the final lines of Peter Pan. It is that forgetting of childhood, of moving to a new season, of letting go of things that were once all that you dreamed of and thought about. I have never understood it more clearly than with the finishing of this text, the sadness that it would be to live as a child for the rest of your life and watch everything else grow and change except you.

For me this book is a coming of age tale, a choice we all have to make of weather to stay in our own fantasies, of having everything taken care of for us or actually having the bravery to face our fears and then enjoy along with the responsibilities, these are the benefits of aging. More than a dream, to live forever in an mortal world would be a curse, it makes me sad thinking about it, Peter is not a hero but a victim of a place and an imagination that he cannot will himself to escape for fear. We are meant to embrace each new stage, each step and grow and learn with them. I loved the impact that Peter Pan had on me as an adult. When I was younger I really didn't get the point, and it seemed so anti-climactic in the end, I didn't get it at all. I am in love with this classic now for sure. I can relate in so many ways to the war of embracing the future- while still longing for the past, the fear things will change and not knowing how that will feel. There is also no question about it, Peter Pan gets all my chickens clucking and the Stellar Five Chicken Book Award.

Have you ever read Peter Pan? What is your favourite children's classic? Have you found out like me that when you read a childhood classic later on in life it has much more meaning than when you were a kid? Which classic was it?

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Cover of 1915 edition of J.M. Barrie's novel, first published in 1911.
Peter Pan playing the pipes, from the novel Peter and Wendy published in 1911


Anonymous said...

I never actually read the book because I saw the movie a few times, and I was so busy obsessing over why Peter was always played by a girl that I never paid sufficient attention to the plot!

I think it's fun though to go back and read childhood "classics" and see how different your reaction is now to what it was or might have been as a child.

Ramya said...

I've never read the book.. but I definitely want to do it soon! You actually cried while reading the book? I am quite a sobber and cry pretty easily while reading books.. I weeped buckets for the kite runner! Shall pick this one up soon.. thanks for returning the favor and adding books to my wishlist!!!

Meghan said...

I have never read this either but I've always wondered whether it was worth reading. Now I know! I think it makes sense that a childhood classic would have a lot of meaning for an adult. After all, the adult is writing the story and I'm sure some of the author's own feelings go into the book.

I'm going to try and find this now, thanks!

bermudaonion said...

I don't think I've ever read Peter Pan, but I'm not really sure, because I've seen some many different movie versions of it. Classics do read differently when you're an adult.

Alyce said...

I hadn't even thought about reading this until I read your review. I've seen the Disney version, and I've seen the movie Neverland (about the author) so I'm sure I would enjoy the original book.

Kailana said...

I always think I have read this book because I have seen the movies so many times, but I don't think I actually have! I own a copy, though, that I might have to give a read at some point!

Jena said...

I've started Peter Pan several times, but for some reason or other, I keep putting it aside. I don't even know where my copy is, but I do plan to read it sometime, probably when I locate it again. (I think it got left in Ohio, in one of the boxes and boxes of books I left behind in a "these can wait" mentality.)

Violet said...

I have seen parts of the movie but never read the book. Maybe I should.

Ronda's Rants said...

I haven't read this book since Elementary school...I can see how I would see and feel it differently!
Great Review!

claire said...

I loved the Disney movie as a child and was wondering if this was worth the read. Thank you for letting us know it is. I would love to read it now. My favourite book as a child that probably would bring back tearful memories is Little Women. My sisters and I shared a love for that book and felt we were part of it.

The Never Fairy said...

Oh yes! That's the beauty of Barrie... it's just as much (if not more so) for adults than it is for kids. Like Peter Pan, it has one foot in both realities. :D
Thanks for encouraging others to read the original story. Much darker and bittersweet than people expect.
Be sure to take a look at this Peter Pan adventure, too, it's different from the rest.!

BiblioMom said...

This is one of my all time favorite books. You wrote a marvelous review too. So many people think of the Diney version of Peter Pan and yet this book is so beautiful and thought provoking and much, much darker than anything Disney did with it.

Ti said...

My son was in the play but I've never read the book. I'm compelled to pick it up after your review.

Amy Btw M said...

Why yes, I have read the book. I enjoyed it, but never thought of it in the way that you did. Thanks for your thoughts, they certainly make me think more seriously about the book.