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- Fadiman, Anne — Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (132 pages)
- Grimwood, Ken — Replay (266 pages)
- Barrie, J.M. — Peter Pan (246 pages)
Page count: 8712.
I was still in the mood for fantasy, Christmas was rapidly approaching, and the last book had me thinking about themes of renewed youth and eternal life, so Peter Pan practically fell off my bookshelf into my hands.
There's nothing I can say about this story that hasn't been said a million times already and by more capable people. It's a magical children's story.
Surprisingly, though, I was a bit disappointed by the novel. I had never read it before, nor seen the play. I was familiar with the story as part of popular culture and through various movie adaptations. I suppose I lost patience with Peter Pan because it did not live up to my idealized image of it.
When you get down to it, Peter and Tink can be pretty despicable characters. But upon re-examination, that's part of Barrie's genius: his characters aren't merely caricatures of some whimsical ideal. Peter isn't just some idealized legendary figure: he exhibits all the arrogance and thoughtlessness that accompany immaturity, and yet he's brave and honourable and playful. He's a real boy, just one who can fly and never grows up.
I think Peter Pan works best with a buffer or filter. I like it better looking back on it a couple of weeks later than I did while reading it. I like it much better having just watched the original Disney feature or the recent Finding Neverland for the first time, or rewatching Hook. Peter Pan works much better as myth than novel, and evoking eternal truths as it does, myth is just what it has become.