Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I always enjoyed reading “Winnie the Pooh” to my kids; it gave me a chance to act out the parts.

They’ve grown past Winnie the Pooh age now and would no longer be interested, but when they were small they got a kick out of such readings. Eeyore was easy; you just dropped your voice an octave or so and added overtones of melancholia and weltschmerz. Pooh, humble and naïve, wasn’t difficult either. Piglet’s lines were delivered in a higher register as he was lively and full of spirit.

So I was interested indeed to read that A A Milne has published a new book of the series: “Return to the Hundred Acre Wood.”

Seemed a bit odd since A A Milne died a half-century or so ago.

Turns out that it’s a new book in the series all right, but it’s by someone else, David Benedictus. If you’ve got to do a sequel of a classic, his is the way to do it. He has done a remarkable job of capturing the tone, the voice, the spirit of the original work, and the new illustrator does the same – you’d swear the pictures in the new book are by Ernest Shepard, the original artist who turned Milne’s creatures into world-famous icons.

But there’s a question.

Should a great classic be rewritten? Why? After all, the original stories are available to today’s youngest generation; the Pooh characters and their activities seem fresh and new to little kids, even though they may be a bit tired and outworn to us oldsters.

The only change in the new version is this: there’s a Pooh Corner newcomer. Lottie the Otter fits right in with the other critters.

They’ve done sequels of classics many times. “Peter Pan” was recreated in this way, and of course there was a kerfuffle when a sequel to “Gone With the Wind” was published.

What’s your opinion? Should they have left the “Hundred-Acre Wood” alone, or is it a good idea to come up with a new, well-done version of the stories?


The Never Fairy said...

I think a sequel to a classic should only be done when it's warranted. And how does one know? In other words, not just because on CAN. And if it IS done, shouldn't it remain faithful to the original. The "Peter Pan" one you mention actually has mistakes (the fact-checking kind) from Barrie's original stories! There is a Peter Pan adventure/sequel, though, based on Barrie's own idea for more, from his notes. That, I think, is "warranted."

Glad to hear that the Pooh one proves to be good. I'll have to check it out.
If you want to check out the Peter Pan book, I put a link in my name.

Thanks for the report.


French Fancy... said...

I'm such a purist that I think things like this should be left alone, likewise unfinished pieces should be exactly that - unfinished. Nobody should mess with the greats (I'm particularly thinking of Mahler's 10th Symphony when I write this).

Berowne said...

The Never Fairy: Interesting. I wish you the best for the success of the book.

Berowne said...

FF: "I'm such a purist that I think things like this should be left alone."

I'm inclined to agree.

I thought it was odd that they remade "The Winslow Boy" motion picture; the original Robert Donat version, if you could get your hands on it, was superior, a film classic. However, I have to admit that the remake is very good.

willow said...

I don't know if I'm such a purist, but I think Hundred-Acre Wood should not be updated. It's a wonderful icon and perfect as is.

Thanks so much for stopping by Willow Manor. I'm going to see if a copy of "Un Carnet de Bal" is available through Netflix. It's definitely a "must see" this week at the manor, considering the festivities!

Berowne said...

I don't think "Un Carnet de Bal" is on Netflix, which is too bad. Could be available in France, however.

Thanks for visiting my blog, Willow. I'll stay in touch.

Madame DeFarge said...

I'm not sure. WtP is such a perfect book that a 'sequel' may not do it for me. But then again, if it's half as good, it'll be twice as good as some other books.

Berowne said...

Yes, there doesn't seem to be all that much need for a sequel; as you say it was perfect as it was. It will be interesting to see how successful the sequel is.

Thanks for visiting my blog, Madame.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I don't like the idea of someone messing with my Pooh

Berowne said...

Yes, it would have to be an awfully good sequel, and even then as we read it we would have a tendency to say, Wait a minute -- that's not the way it should go!

Anonymous said...

Remakes and rewrites don't seem like a good idea. Especially when Winnie is so accessible as it is.
Leave things alone!

Berowne said...

Dedene: "Leave things alone!"

Yes, that seems to be the consensus. I've come across no one in favor of the remake.

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