Sunday, January 18, 2015

Celebrate Pooh Day

It would be hard to find a childhood not touched by Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne was born on January 18 in 1882 and it is today we should stop and remember the Pooh of literature and film that has become a part of our culture.

Winnie the Pooh was named for Milne's son Christopher's teddy bear, and Christopher, as Christopher Robin, featured prominently in the books and poetry set in the Hundred Acre Wood. Douglas Lain explores a fictionalized account of Christopher Milne's adult life in Billy Moon.

"Set during the turbulent year of 1968, Christopher Robin Milne, the inspiration for his father's fictional creation, struggles to emerge from a manufactured life, in a story of hope and transcendence. Billy Moon was Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A. A. Milne, the world-famous author of Winnie the Pooh and other beloved children's classics. Billy's life was no fairy-tale, though. Being the son of a famous author meant being ignored and even mistreated by famous parents; he had to make his own way in the world, define himself, and reconcile his self-image with the image of him known to millions of children. A veteran of World War II, a husband and father, he is jolted out of midlife ennui when a French college student revolutionary asks him to come to the chaos of Paris in revolt. Against a backdrop of the apocalyptic student protests and general strike that forced France to a standstill that spring, Milne's new French friend is a wild card, able to experience alternate realities of the past and present. Through him, Milne's life is illuminated and transformed, as are the world-altering events of that year." publisher.

Milne wrote not only for children, but also turned his hand to writing  for adults, including The Red House Mystery and The Sunny Side : short stories and poems for proper grown-ups.

"First published in 1921, this witty, pleasantly rarefied miscellany from Winnie-the-Pooh creator Milne features his contributions to the British magazine Punch, where he was assistant editor, in the years before and after WWI. In disarming short pieces grouped around various themes, the deft Milne gently—very gently—skewers the peccadilloes of his generation and its classes, such as Simon Simpson, the litterateur of some eminence but little circulation, who invites all his friends to join him on a lazy holiday on the French Riviera (Oranges and Lemons). In the section Men of Letters, Milne has great fun caricaturing the self-serious pomposity of fellow writers and poets, and even offers a sampling of the tedious fare presented at Lady Poldoodle's Poetry At-Homes. Some of the pieces in the War-Time section chronicle the humble predicament of the French infantryman: managing an intractable horse or finding comfort in a toy dog. A set of Home Notes concerns the narrator's dear thoughts on married life with the sensible but rather fluttery Celia; one piece finds the couple instigating a mystifying dinner party game of Proverbs. Milne's quotidian observations remain quite moving in their wry simplicities, which are not simple at all."  publishers weekly

Pooh is seemingly slow-witted and an innocent in many respects. He claims that he is a bear of very little brain and his friends tend to agree with him. Of course we know that Winnie the Pooh is more than that. He proves himself to be a poet, a highly sociable friend, and a bear who frequently problem-solves his way out of situations with his own unique brand of common sense. There is much we can learn from Pooh - some believe even a philosophy of life.

Postmodern Pooh by Frederick Crews

"Purporting to be the proceedings of a forum on Pooh convened at the Modern Language Association's annual convention, this sequel of sorts to the classic send-up of literary criticism, The Pooh Perplex, brilliantly parodies the academic fads and figures that held sway at the millennium. Deconstruction, poststructuralist Marxism, new historicism, radical feminism, cultural studies, recovered-memory theory, and postcolonialism, among other methods, take their shots at the poor stuffed bear and Frederick Crews takes his well-considered, wildly funny shots at them. His aim, as ever, is true."  publisher

Pooh and the psychologists : in which it is proven that Pooh Bear is a brilliant psychotherapist by John Tyerman Williams

 "Move over, Freud, there's a new psychologist in the forest, and his name is Winnie-the-Pooh. In this witty book, Williams cleverly explores the psychological depths of the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood: Piglet is compulsively shy, Eeyore is clinically depressed, and so on. In his unobtrusive way, Pooh is at the center of the puzzle, teaching each of his friends a little smackerel about themselves and leading them on the road to recovery." publisher

The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

"The Te of Piglet . . . in which a good deal of Taoist wisdom is revealed through the character and actions of A. A. Milne's Piglet. Piglet? Yes, Piglet. For the better than impulsive Tigger? or the gloomy Eeyore? or the intellectual Owl? or even the lovable Pooh? Piglet herein demonstrates a very important principle of Taoism: The Te--a Chinese word meaning Virtue--of the Small." publisher

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

"The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?! In which it is revealed that one of the world's great Taoist masters isn't Chinese--or a venerable philosopher--but is in fact none other than that effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear. A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh! While Eeyore frets, and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is. And that's a clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists." publisher

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