Great Books of the World – Part 18

“The life of every man is a diary in which
he means to write one story, and writes another;
and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume
as it is with what he vowed to make it.”
J.M. Barrie

“The Kite,” “The Chess,” and “Neverland – Piano Variation in Blue” by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (courtesy of Andrew Cooper):

 

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly,
you cease forever to be able to do it.”
“Peter Pan”, J.M. Barrie

Bird Creatures (courtesy of Claireonline):

 

J.M. BARRIE
1860  –  1937

Courtesy of AncestralTayroots:

 

J. M. Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, the son of a weaver. He was educated in Dumfries and Glasgow. He studied for an MA at Edinburgh University. He found work as a journalist on the Nottinghamshire Journal then, in 1885, moved to London to work as a freelance writer. His home town became the setting for a series of stories and novels, including the successful “The Little Minister.”

Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies

His first play, Richard Savage, was performed in 1891 and was followed by Quality Street and The Admirable Crichton. On the death of his close friends, Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, Barrie became legal guardian to their five sons and Peter Pan was developed from stories he used to tell the boys at bedtime. It was first performed as a play in 1904, then published in book form in 1911.

Both Arthur and Sylvia died of inoperable cancers since in those days there was nothing, like chemotherapy, that could help them.

“Berceuse” by Armas Järnevelt, performed by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Neeme Järvi:

 

Arthur Llewelyn Davies and his sons

The trailer for the 2004 film “Finding Neverland” (courtesy of Miramax):

Barrie donated the rights for stage productions of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, so that sick children continue to benefit from its success to this day. He was made a baronet in 1913, received the Order of Merit in 1922, and wrote many more successful plays before his death in 1937.

The gardens created by volunteers to give the sick children a “green” view, to help with their wellbeing.

 

PETER  PAN

Everyone must be familiar with the classic Disney film about the boy who doesn’t want to grow up, but J.M. Barrie’s book provides an altogether more poignant tale of the lives of Peter and the Lost Boys. Everyone certainly knows the story of Peter Pan and the Darling children – Peter’s loyal fairy, Tinker Bell, or his mates in Neverland, the Lost Boys, or their fierce foe, Captain Hook  –  through the many justly popular stage or screen adaptations of J.M. Barrie’s tale.

The novel, adapted from the original theatrical presentation, is a winning mix of drama and fantasy and has fuelled many productions, including a perennially appealing Disney animated film. Like its flying protagonist, Peter Pan is a story that may revel forever in never growing up.

Despite your familiarity with the outline of the story, reading it for the first time, you will find excitement and adventure on every page  – Peter trying to stick his shadow back on with soap, teaching Wendy how to fly, alongside the intricacies of fairy lore and some scary adventures amongst pirates and redskins in the colourful world of Neverland.

“Lost” by Peter Gregson (courtesy of Sono Luminus):

We all know characters like Peter Pan; irresponsible, forgetful, fiercely independent and living only for the moment.

Will, they always stay the same? If so, what will become of them?  Part of the attraction of Barrie’s magical world is the authenticity of the intense human emotions he explores. The story will astonish you with its sophistication, allusiveness, and compelling, yet paradoxically reflective, storytelling. For all its fantasy and adventure, the book is very much written from an adult perspective: it is, in a way, a long meditation on the inevitability of leaving the magical precincts of childhood.

“All children, except one, grow up,” it begins, and while Peter is the ageless wonder who soon charms us, his endless youth cannot sustain the reality of life.

“Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children’s minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds  and put things straight for the next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.”

There follows an extraordinary disquisition on the “map of a person’s mind” that will amuse young readers with its whimsy and fill older ones with wonder, and probably a few tears, as they reach its conclusion, that nothing will stand still.

Uniquely targeted, with perfect aim, at both children and adults, Barrie’s masterpiece is the perfect vehicle to introduce a family to the pleasure of reading aloud, for it allows each audience to lose itself in its own transporting reverie.

“To Hold the Stars in the Palm of Your Hand” by Chad Lawson:

 

An extract from “Peter Pan”:

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this forever!’

This was all that passed between them on the subject, but hence-forth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end. Of course, they lived at 14, and until Wendy came her mother was the chief one. She was a lovely lady, with a romantic mind and such a sweet mocking mouth. Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East, however many you discover there is always one more, 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.

The way Mr Darling won her was this: the many gentlemen who had been boys when she was a girl discovered simultaneously that they loved her, and they all ran to her house to propose to her, except Mr Darling, who took a cab and nipped in first, and so he got her.”

“In Search of Peter Pan” by Kate Bush (courtesy of MrMarrs):

35 thoughts on “Great Books of the World – Part 18

  1. Lovely story. I like both the original and Disney illustrations.

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  2. He must have been a very special man. I remember “Finding Neverland” and being very touched by it. Of course I grew up with the story of Peter Pan. Inevitably, it was the dog I particularly loved! Thank you for a sweet reminder.

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  3. Classic – and what good memories your post has brought to mind! Many thanks, Joanna. 🙂

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  4. Hi. Real good essay. Mary Martin starred as Peter Pan in a Broadway stage production in the 1950s. The show, with MM in it, was telecast soon after. I vaguely remember seeing that TV production. Neil

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  5. Thank you, Neil, for your interesting comments. To see the play on stage had to be another tribute to the great writer.

    Thank you again, Neil, greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your kind comments. This is the reason I write about classics, they bring memories and they are together with their creators, immortal.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Carolyn, for your lovely comments! I admired his dedication to the orphaned boys and his empathy with the children ( Hospital’s gift!).

    Joanna

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  8. Thank you, Pat, for your kind comments! I think Peter Pan will never age and be forever loved. Magic!

    Joanna

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  9. I thought I knew the story of Peter Pan, but until I read your own fabulous account of him, I didn’t realise how little I did know. We all know a Peter Pan of course, and I for one would love to have been like him, but I wasn’t born that way unfortunately.

    Once again, you’ve woven the author’s background into the story itself with some great music and videos. I particularly like the starling murmurations, and you always seem to find an eclectic mix of pictures. Great stuff Joanna!

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  10. Thank you, Malc, for your wonderful comments! Especially, as I did not expect you to have time to read my offering. I also, would like to be heathy and live forever out of curiosity, but so far research proved to be unsuccessful. The devotion to the orphaned boys and the gift to the children’s hospital is the immortality of the writer.

    I greatly appreciate, Malc, you taking time and commenting!

    By the way, I love starlings, great mimics, and they do they best to entertain me in exchange for good food, cooked breakfast of porridge with raisins and fat, and occasioned babysitting during the fledgling season.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I will always find tme to read your blogs Joanna 🙂

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  12. Thank you, and a big sisterly hug!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Another spectacular post that I loved so much.
    Some illustrations brought me so many wonderful memories from my childhood, 💙💙💙 thank you for this walk down memory lane

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  14. Thank you, Dear Luisa, for your delightful comments! Classics do have a staying power!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You’re most welcome, dearest Joanna💖

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  16. A post full of wonderful memories for so many of us! Thank you, Joanna, for reminding us that even as adults, we all need a little magic in our lives! And this post is just that: magic! 🤍🌹💓🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you, Dear Ashley, for your magical comments! Just what I needed! All classics leave the life-long memories.

    I am little bit concerned that you are feeling under the weather. If you need sympathetic ear, we can talk privately. I hope it will pass.

    Thank you again for sparing time to read and comment, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dear Joanna, yes, I will be in touch soon 🤗🌹🙋‍♂️

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  19. Good. I will be waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you, Joanna, for reminding this beautiful story that I had almost forgotten, but now I remember what is Peter Pan Syndrome. You have very well talked about the life of Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. His benevolence was seen when he granted rights for stage production to a hospital. I was not aware of his background like son of weaver or journalist.

    But the genesis of story of Peter Pan is quite interesting and heart touching, a child refusing to grow. It’s so painful that a child has to stop being a child. I had read that the story covers Barrie’s own childhood experience of losing his brother.

    I really enjoyed your video clippings of more than half an hour. My Saturday evening gets cheerful after going through your post. Thanks again for your wonderful post. Have a nice weekend.

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  21. Thank you, Kaushal, for your analytical and kind comments! I was impressed by Barrie’s devotion to the orphaned children and the care he provided, including reading the stories he wrote at their bedtime. It is good to know that there are people who would do so much for others, it reassures me that the world is still a good place to many.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  22. You’re welcome, Joanna! I agree there are people who make this world worthy to live, and in fact they constitute the majority. Humanity is maligned by select few only, who should be better ignored.

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  23. Thank you, Kaushal, I admire your wisdom, as always!

    Joanna

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  24. A marvellous post Joanna. Peter Pan will remain magical for ever I think. If only we really could fly!

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  25. Thank you, Peter, for your kind comment! Well, we can but not in Icarus’s way but perhaps BA…

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I still feel Joanna, that I have hardly grown up. And even though in hindsight I had an image of Peter pan but I quite never him. It’s a lovely and lively story illustrating the magic of childhood what it makes people do good and bad both as time passes by.

    (Losing anyone is a time and life changing experience)!!

    Thank you Joanna for this gift.

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  27. Thank you, Narayan, for your thoughtful comments. You have a long way before you can worry about losing any of your older family, except your grandmother whom you have loved very much.

    But always remember what I once wrote, quoting from the known book:

    “ Grief is the price we pay for love.”

    As humans we all do things that are sometimes good and sometimes bad, and we have to accept this reality, only angels are perfect.

    Thank you again for your comments, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

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  28. Great back story! How wonderful and fitting that he gave the royalties of the book to a children’s hospital!

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  29. Thank you so much for your kind comments! I was very impressed too by the care he gave to the orphaned boys and the gift to the children’s hospital.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  30. It always takes me a while to respond because I like to give your post the time it deserve. So rich in history, music, song and trailer and movies. It was lovely to hear more about J. M. Barrie. and so many others. The pictures were amazing. I’ll be back to catch up with more here later Joanna..Thank you. 💗

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  31. Thank you, Cindy, for your lovely comments, and for your time, I know how busy you are. I hope you have recovered from all the building work. Come back when you can

    Joanna

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  32. Thank you for a lovely and informative share Joanna and so wonderful to read the back story.

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  33. Thank you, Henrietta, for your kind comments. Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I love the ancient books. They write with a different tone than our books of today. Thank you dear Gaby for sharing the information about the writers. I did enjoy.

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