A Meeting of Minds - An Anne McCaffrey Discussion Forum  

Go Back   A Meeting of Minds - An Anne McCaffrey Discussion Forum > The Mezzanine > Book Collector's Meeting Room

Book Collector's Meeting Room Whether you're an experienced collector or just starting out, this is the place to discuss Anne's books in all their various bindings, languages, and cover art.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old Aug 26 2006, 02:56 PM   #1
P'ter
Crafter

Craftmaster
 
P'ter's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wolverhampton
Gender: M
Fan of: Favorite?
Now Reading: avidly
Post Peter Pan

Having just aquired a copy; here's the text of Anne's intro to P.P.

When I was asked to write this introduction to Peter Pan, I immediately went to one of my usual bookshops in the Dublin area so that I could refresh my memory. I was horrified to find that they didn't have a copy on their shelves, but they were happy to order one for me. While I was waiting for its arrival, I searched for further information on the net and discovered that there are 1,610,100 entries available for "Peter Pan," so the mischievous lad is still alive and well in our mundane world.

It was as well I reread the text, as I had forgotten some of the little niceties that Sir James inserted, winking to be sure at some reader would get the point. I also heard faint eches of my mother's voice. Sometimes it's good to reread old books, if only for the nostalgia evoked.

It was more than seventy years ago that my mother read Peter Pan aloud to my two brothers and me. I still remember two things from that first reading: the directions to the Neverland, which never allowed me to get there ("Second to the right, and then straight on till morning" was a strange way to give directions, I thought at the time),* and the magical possibility of reviving a fairy (Live, Tinker Bell!).

I also remember my mother's slightly dubious tone when she read the part about Nana, the Newfoundland dog who was the Darling's nursery maid. The odd part about it is that when I grew up, I, too, had a dog doing nursery duty. Wizard, our German shepherd, took it as his duty to keep my overly adventurous son, Todd, from wandering off our premises, as we lived on a fairly busy road. His technique was to follow Todd everywhere. When Todd would get close to something that Wizard thought was dangerous, the dog would trip my son up and sit on his chest and howl -- at which point I would arrive. To be truthful, I don't think I recalled Nana at the time I allowed Wizard to take charge. But it worked as long as a human listened. Poor Nana, she tried to tell the Darlings that there was trouble the night Peter Pan entered the children's bedroom. Nana made me wonder about Barrie's upbringing in Scotland. He was the ninth child of a weaver, and I could almost imagine them having a sheep dog who kept a watchful eye on such a mob. And then I learned that Barrie was accompanied by his St Bernard dog in Kensington Gardens when he first met the Davies children, the lads who would soon inspire the adventures of Peter Pan and the Darlings.

Sir James Barrie wrote Peter Pan as a cautionary tale, as so many fantastical tales are. He first wrote it as a play, which was performed in London on December 27th, 1904, and became an annual Christmas institution. He later turned it into a novel, adding the charming final chapter called "When Wendy Grew Up," with the further adventures of Peter Pan and Wendy. (I rather like the notion that Peter Pan came to fetch her to the Neverland in time to do the spring cleaning ... and then conveyed her female descendants, one by one, a tradition that will continue "as long as children are gay and innocent and heartless").

As I mentioned, the directions to the Neverland have stayed with me all my life: "Second to the right, and then straight on till morning." Well, even before I became a practicing science fiction writer, I had doubts about the usefulness of such ambivalent directions. However, on close examination, if one were facing north in london, right would be east. And straight on till morning ... depending on when you took off -- and I presume that the Darling children were put to bed about seven -- you'd run into morning over India or the Micronesian Sea, which has ever so many lovely untouched islands where pirates might still anchor, and coves and lagoons and the tropical vegetation that D. F. Bedford captured so enchantingly in his illustrations. So, whimsical as it may seem, "straight on till morning" is valid. Barrie never suggests that te Neverland is not on earth somewhere. Using fairy dust as an early anti-gravity spray and conjuring happy thoughts do speed one up on good days.

While Peter is more interested in luring Wendy to the Neverland, he recruits her brothers easily enough with the prospect of matching wits with not only "redskins" but pirates. What red-blooded boy could resist such treats? Indeed this is why John and Michael insist on accompanying their sister. She, on the other hand, in ultimately persuaded by the prospect of meeting mermaids.

the story is, as I've said, a cautionary tale -- about the necessity of growing up, which Peter eschews with immense fervour and cleverness. He has no intention of ever growing up and assuming the responsibility of making a living, marrying and having children to raise to a similar sense of duty and responsibility. And he has gathered about him a group of "lost boys" with whom to play, who admire his cleverness and bravery. Thay can be exasperating, arrogant, and selfish, wanting, as Peter Pan did, for things to work out their way, according to their plans, because they are so clever. But they can also be irrestistibly charming.

However, I know I shouldn't like somone who only wanted my company for my spring-cleaning or storytelling abilities. Ironically, while Peter does not wish to grow up, he pushes Wendy prematurely into motherhood -- all for his benefit. She is diligent and responsible in her duties as the lost boys' surrogate mother. She darns and mends for Peter and the lost boys, who are constantly ripping the knees from their trousers and putting holes in their socks. She insists on a proper bedtime and good food. She even keeps them from eating the sweet cake with which the pirates hope to ensnare them.

If Wendy is Mother, then it occurs to her that Peter Pan, as the leader of his troupe, is father, a position that Peter denies.

"I was just thinking," he said, a little scared. "It is only make-believe, isn't it, that I am their father?"
"Oh yes," said Wendy primly.
"You see," he continued apologetically, "it would make me seem so old to be their real father."
"But they are ours, Peter, yours and mine."
"But not really, Wendy?" he asked anxiously.
"Not if you don't wish it," she replied; and she distinctly heard his sigh of relief.


One of the delightful aspects of Peter Pan is Barrie's ability to reveal the inside of a child's mind, showing how faint the line is between imagination and reality. Wendy insists on a midday rest for the boys, especially after eating (whether the food is pretend or real.) She also makes sure they take their medicine at night. (One never knows why the medicine is needed, only that it is supposed to be taken at night.)

I think that nowadays girls, having been exposed to full women's liberation, would not fall for Peter Pan's soft talk. And while their fantasies might include traditional ones like "playing house," they would certainly include other adventures too, such as training dragons, or becoming a doctor or prime minister. I also wonder just how many girls now would know how to thread a needle to sew Peter's shadow onto his foot, much less darn his socks and mend his trousers

Yet the world still needs a Peter Pan, if only to remind us of that marvelous stage of life -- childhood. To show us that we can confound most dangers and be stalwart survivors of piratical threats as well as attacks by crocodile teeth and even the machinations of the dastardly Captain Hook, who is secretly jealous of Peter Pan's youth and vigour.

More important, Peter Pan reminds us of a need to "believe".

One of my favorite moments in the book is when we are all called upon to save the life of Tinker Bell, Peter's mischievous companion and Wendy's rival. She has drunk the poison that Captain Hook left in Peter's medicine cup. As the bright spark fades from her fragile body, Peter attempts to revive her.

Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him then you might think: boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets hung from trees.
"Do you believe?" he cried.
Tink sat up in her bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.
She fancied she heard answers in the affirmative, and then again she wasn't sure.
"What do you think?" she asked Peter.
"If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die."


Peter sends this message to every child who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and the reponse is sufficient to revive the dying fairy. there is some unreconstructed, immature childlike part in us still clinging to the notion that fairies can exist. I do believe in fairies, I do, I do, I do. and in Peter Pan.

One last point -- as of December 27th, in the year 2004, Peter Pan was one hundred years old. That's even older than I am. Not bad for a lad who didn't want to grow up, don't you think?



* Footnote: She quotes it wrong in Crystal Line as "First Left then straight on till morning" (but she may have done this deliberately).
__________________
"Truth is stranger than fiction: fiction has to make sense." Leo Rosten.

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
C. S. Lewis

"I find television very educational. Whenever somebody switches it on I go in the other room and read a book." (attributed to Groucho Marx)

The Pedants are revolting! (against bad grammar)
P'ter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 26 2006, 04:28 PM   #2
Shalyn
Inactive
 
Shalyn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Loo-a-vull / Luhvuhl / Loo-ih-ville / Loo-a-ville / Looeyville / Lewisville Oh, Heck. Kentuckiana.
Gender: F
Fan of: Dragonflight
Default Re: Peter Pan

Thank you for copying that for the rest of us to enjoy, P'ter.

I know I enjoyed reading it.
Shalyn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 27 2006, 04:58 AM   #3
Hans
Master Archivist
 
Hans's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: The Netherlands
Gender: M
Fan of: Pern!
Default Re: Peter Pan

Any similarities between you and your famous namesake, Peter?
__________________
Hans, also known as Elrhan, Master Archivist

Visit The Pern Museum & Archives for all your Pern and Anne McCaffrey News and Resources!
The Pern Museum & Archives is the home of the Pern Encyclopedia and the Pern Bloodlines.
Hans is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 27 2006, 08:07 AM   #4
P'ter
Crafter

Craftmaster
 
P'ter's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wolverhampton
Gender: M
Fan of: Favorite?
Now Reading: avidly
Default Re: Peter Pan

But of course
__________________
"Truth is stranger than fiction: fiction has to make sense." Leo Rosten.

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
C. S. Lewis

"I find television very educational. Whenever somebody switches it on I go in the other room and read a book." (attributed to Groucho Marx)

The Pedants are revolting! (against bad grammar)
P'ter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28 2006, 05:13 AM   #5
Spaceman Spiff
Inactive
 
Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Gender: M
Fan of: PERN!!!
Now Reading: Lord of the Rings
Default Re: Peter Pan

Peter Pan was the first story that my grandmother had read to me as a child, and it's a wonderful surprise to read the forward by Anne!
Spaceman Spiff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Aug 28 2006, 06:25 AM   #6
P'ter
Crafter

Craftmaster
 
P'ter's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wolverhampton
Gender: M
Fan of: Favorite?
Now Reading: avidly
Default Re: Peter Pan

Glad to be of more use than just a giggle
__________________
"Truth is stranger than fiction: fiction has to make sense." Leo Rosten.

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
C. S. Lewis

"I find television very educational. Whenever somebody switches it on I go in the other room and read a book." (attributed to Groucho Marx)

The Pedants are revolting! (against bad grammar)
P'ter is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mother edith Exhibit Hall 26 Mar 27 2008 12:17 AM
2006 reading lists ghyle Beyond Anne McCaffrey 45 Jul 24 2007 06:57 AM
Pete's Poems P'ter Exhibit Hall 13 Dec 22 2006 08:24 PM
Peter Pan P'ter All the Rest 4 Aug 28 2006 10:52 PM
2005 reading list ghyle Beyond Anne McCaffrey 6 Jan 29 2006 10:03 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:44 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

ds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey’s fiction are copyright © Anne McCaffrey 1967-2008, all rights reserved, and used bA Meeting of Minds forum owned by Cheryl B. Miller.
All references to worly permission of the author.