by J.M. Barrie
Originally published 1904
Barnes & Noble
Peter Pan is one of several classic children’s novels that escaped me in my youth. As an adult, I’m trying to make up for lost time and channel my inner child by reading them. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz delighted me, Alice in Wonderland is on the horizon and I just finished an adventure with Peter Pan.
So much of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is especially for the imagination and feeling of a child. Peter Pan is the boy who never wants to grow up. He’s gay (in the classic definition), innocent and heartless. As a child, he has the magical power to fly simply by tapping into “lovely wonderful thoughts”. He has very little sense of time and virtually no long-term memory because he is too consumed with new adventures and being a boy. While children often struggle with the limitations of their age, Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and their new friends Wendy, Michael and John Darling demonstrate that being a child is something special and that adults are at the disadvantage of not being able to recapture the magic of their youth.
Peter Pan lures Wendy, Michael and John from their cozy home, teaches them to fly and they have wondrous and sometimes dangerous adventures. The characters of Neverland include fantastical creatures like mermaids and fairies that children only read about in books but here are children interacting with them in their own exclusive world. The children are pitted against the most capitvating villain of their imagination: pirates. Neverland is exotic and different and a place where your average adults are not allowed.
I think the enduring legacy of the story of Peter Pan is it’s ability to tap into a child’s imagination in the most direct way possible. The story captures their imagination, speaks to their hopes and fears and provides them with heroes that they can identify with.
I enjoyed this book as an adult but do regret not having read it as a child. Most of the fantastical adventures were lost on me and I found myself more interested in the tail ends of the story when we're in the Darling home.
I got this book as part of a free audio book deal from Downpour.com . They are a great alternative to Audible especially if you don’t want to do business with Amazon. The audio book was narrated by Christopher Cazenove who I think did a wonderful job. It felt very much like a classic story time narration. I wonder what an audio narration would sound like with a much young narrator. I think it would be even better.