Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie

Yes, it happened. I purchased and read the original version of Peter Pan.

I’ve always been a little captivated by this story. Having seen the movie(s) growing up, the idea of flying and adventuring, always staying a child, has stuck in my head – and in my heart.

I never knew that Peter Pan first appeared in a short novel called Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. In the book I bought this is the second part, following the normal novel that we all know of. It was interesting that in the second part, it is really a prequel to the Peter Pan story, featuring Peter as a baby, always staying only a week old. Because he is a baby with a startling sense of being, this story reminds me of the old May Gibbs Snugglepot and Cuddlepie stories.

In a nutshell: Peter Pan is a boy with magical flying abilities who lives on the island of Neverland with his troupe of “Lost Boys”. Barrie portrays Peter as a memory that we all have from our childhood, but forget as we grow older. Peter encounters Wendy, John and Michael Darling and encourages them to fly away with him to Neverland for an indeterminate amount of time (?) spent adventuring. They kill pirates, meet mermaids and generally chill with fairies like Tinkerbell. Wendy, as the only girl in the band of children, acts as their ‘mother’, making them take their medicine, mending their clothes and such.

Peter is a really strange character, with an equally elusive past. We find in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens that he escapes from his mother when he is only a week old, because he is afraid of growing up. While he one day tries to return to his mother, he finds his bedroom door locked shut and his mother with a new baby – this sparks Peter’s disdain for the mother figure. He thinks he can live on as a young boy without the need for a mother, and does just this.

The characters in this novel are adorable and lovely, written in the early 1900s originally as a play. I didn’t realise Tinkerbell was written as such a cranky mischief-maker! Apparently:

Tink was not all bad: or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, she was sometimes all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small; they unfortunately have room  for one feeling only at a time.

I also appreciate the style in which Barrie writes, and wouldn’t mind replicating it one day. It is 3rd person past tense, but with a very distinct narrator. I.e:

One thing I should like to do immensely, and that is to tell her, in the way authors have, that the children are coming back, that indeed they will be here on Tuesday week.

In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens the narrator feels different, and speaks about presumably a son named David. Here, I assumed the narrator was a mother of this child David?

Well, I enjoyed Peter Pan as a fanciful little childish read. One day I’ll read it to my children 🙂

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