Becoming Kenneth Grahame

One of my fellow bloggers pointed me to this Kenneth Grahame “The story behind the story” type of thing.
It’s a very interesting read, referring to his near murder, wacky marriage and tragic childhood.
As you may know by now, I find the Wind in the Willows to be a huge mess, with certainly some very good — at times sublime — parts, but without the cohesion called for in a novel, especially a children’s novel. Which may be the reason why it’s so hard to make a good movie out of it.
Toad’s wild ride, after all, is only a portion of the book. There’s also the Piper at the Gates of Dawn, tales from a seafaring rat, etc…
Anyway, the above story talks about how the book grew out of bedtime stories and letters from Grahame to his increasingly disturbed son. Now that I can believe. It certainly comes across as a mish-mash of stories and letters. If only a few of them had gotten lost in the mail.
When it came out it received this review from the Times, which even I think is too harsh:
‘Grown-up readers will find it monstrous and elusive,’ wrote the Times critic. ‘Children will hope, in vain, for more fun.’
All it really needed was an editor to say let’s drop this, let’s put these together, etc…
(So the moral of the day is… don’t be afraid of editors.)
The book was on the point of flopping when Grahame sent a copy to Teddy Roosevelt who worked his Teddy magic and made it a hit.
This made me consider sending a copy of Qwikpick to Bush. Or maybe I should wait until Obama takes over.

One Response

  1. Send Bush to the water treatment plant — maybe he’ll become mesmerized by the fountain and fall in. Send the book to Obama. imho

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