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Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens / Peter and…
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Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens / Peter and Wendy

by J. M. Barrie

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» See also 3 mentions

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I read this a long time ago as a little girl (10 years old, I think), but having just read it again, I find that it's even richer and much funnier than I remember!

Of course, it's a good story, but it also presents a satirical critique of Victorian culture in several respects, including, the Darlings' attempt to keep up the appearance of middle-class comfort by keeping a governess, but saving money because the governess is a dog, Nana. Victorian gender roles also find themselves coming under Barrie's satirical gun.

But I'll say no more--you must find it all out for yourself. And you'll be glad you did. ( )
  Jujunna | Jul 25, 2014 |
"'You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand piecs, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.'"

I had, sadly, never before experienced the true Peter Pan. Only the Disneyfied version. Which I always enjoyed, I mean, who doesn't love the frivolous forever-child and the jealous little pixie fairy? But of course, we all know Disney's track record for authenticity.

"'Tink,' said Peter amiably, 'this lady says she wishes you were her fairy.'
Tinker Bell answered insolently.
'What does she say, Peter?'
He had to translate. 'She is not very polite. She says you are a great ugly girl, and that she is my fairy.'
He tried to argue with Tink. 'You know you can't be my fairy, Tink, because I am an gentleman and you are a lady.'
To this Tink replied in these words, 'You silly ass,' and disappeared into the bathroom. 'She is quite a common fairy,' Peter explained apologetically, 'she is called Tinker Bell because she mends the pots and kettles.'"


I had no idea that the real Tink was such a terrible little wretch! She's so mean and her language! In a children's story! There were times I would have liked to be able to reach in and swat her for the stuff she did. Even still, she also was managed to be rather entertaining. I mean, imagine, a pretty little fairy, whose catch-phrase appears to be "silly ass"! It made me laugh every time.

"For a moment the circle of light was broken, and something gave Peter a loving little pinch.
'Then tell her,' Wendy begged, 'to put out her light.'
'She can't put it out. That is about the only thing fairies can't do. It just goes out of itself when she falls asleep, same as the stars.'
'Then tell her to sleep at once,' John almost ordered.
'She can't sleep except when she's sleepy. It is the only other thing fairies can't do.'
'Seems to me,' growled John, 'these are the only two things worth doing.'
Here he got a pinch, but not a loving one."


So while I was a little displeased at just how selfish Peter and Tink were, I thought the story was a lot of fun. It's more random chapters of his/their time in Neverland than an actual chronological story, but it's whimsical adventure (and a bit darker than Disney would have you believe), with both lovely sweet notions (such as the first quote) and thoroughly amusing laugh-out-loud bits (such as the other quotes) and the ending was perfectly done.

Then we have Peter's original book, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. He made his first appearance in Barrie's adult novel [The Little White Bird] in 1902, and then starred in the play of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up in 1904. But Barrie didn't turn the play into a novel until 1911 (then titled Peter and Wendy), while he wrote about Kensington Gardens in 1906.

"He would not eat worms or insects (which thy thought very silly of him), so they brought him bread in their beaks. Thus, when you cry out, 'Greedy! Greedy!' to the bird that flies away with the big crust, you know now that you ought not to do this, for he is very likely taking it to Peter Pan."

I actually liked this one better than the other. There's a couple things that contributed to this. One, there was no terribly naughty Tink, and Peter was far more innocent (he's merely 7 days old) so more pleasant. Two, there were no prior experiences with it so no discrepancies between childhood enjoyment and actual story. And then, it is an entirely different story, unique and completely fresh, with all sorts of delightful entertaining tidbits. Plus there are more like two or three stories overlapping and intertwining amongst each other and they're all a bit silly and amusing and fun. I would strongly recommend reading this one!

"'O Tony,' she would say with awful respect, 'but the fairies will be so angry!'
'I dare say,' replied Tony carelessly.
'Perhaps,' she said, thrilling, 'Peter Pan will give you a sail in his boat!'
'I shall make him,' replied Tony; no wonder she was proud of him.
But they should not have talked so loudly, for one day they were overheard by a fairy who had been gathering skeleton leaves, from which the little people weave their summer curtains, and after that Tony was a marked boy. They loosened the rails before he sat on them, so that down he came on the back of his head; they tripped him up by catching his bootlace, and bribed the ducks to sink his boat. Nearly all the nasty accidents you meet with in the Gardens occur because the fairies have taken an ill-will to you, and so it behoves you to be careful what you say about them."


I really liked both these books, and I'd definitely recommend them to everyone, of all ages. Especially if you find a copy with the nice original illustrations! ( )
1 vote .Monkey. | Mar 8, 2014 |
1906 - 1911 -

I read this a while back and somehow forgot to write anything whatever about it, or mark it as read, or anything. I remember liking it; it was fairly dark, moved fast. Can't remember if I thought there were weird sexual undertones or was surprised to find there weren't.

Humph. I hate when I don't document properly. ( )
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
When I started reading this book I thought I would love it. It turned out to bore me a lot.
I thought neverland would be a magical place where you'd want to go back again and again. But London seemed rather cozier and less deadly (children killing pirates?).
Peter isn't a hero, he's just very selfish boy.
This book made me believe that Peter Pan is only famous because of Disney. It's very well written and full of creative sillyness, but the fights against the pirates are long and boring and got me sleeping a couple of times. ( )
  Eilantha_Le_Fay | Aug 26, 2011 |
Like the best children's books, especially children's fantasies (meant in its most expansive definition), much darker and thornier than the versions everyone remembers. The novel is even a couple steps darker and more poignant than the play, with a would-be murderous Tinker Bell (two words, okay?!), Wendy getting seriously confused over whether she's a child or adult, the constant description of youth as "gay, innocent and heartless", the mass death of most of the Indians, and the incredible callousness of Peter as time starts to pass. Barrie knew that the passage into adulthood was necessarily tragic -- but not doing so would be heartbreaking in its own right -- and he didn't downplay that for one second.Not to say this is unremittingly dark; it's constantly witty and the narrator is friendly, sometimes the consequences you expect are hilariously smaller and more like pretend-play than you might have been waiting for, and there's some great parody of other "Boys' Books" material in there.If anything, though, it's an amazing companion to The Neverending Story: a really cool look at the way imagination works on the mechanical level, and why we should bother, and what about it we should keep an eye on. And in the meantime giving us characters we can hope and fear and cry for. ( )
  Snakeshands | Jul 30, 2011 |
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Please note that some editions, namely Wordsworth 1853261203 and Borders 1587261022, although most often not noted in the title, contain both "Peter Pan" as well as "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens"! Please don't separate!
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192839292, Paperback)

In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, J.M. Barrie first created Peter Pan as a baby, living a wild and secret life with birds and fairies in the middle of London. Later Barrie let this remarkable child grow a little older and he became the boy-hero of Neverland, making his first appearance, with Wendy, Captain Hook, and the Lost Boys, in Peter and Wendy. The Peter Pan stories were Barrie's only works for children but, as their persistent popularity shows, their themes of imaginative escape continue to charm even those who long ago left Neverland. This is the first edition to include both texts in one volume and the first to a present an extensively annotated text for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

"Peter Pan originally appeared as a baby living a magical life among birds and fairies in J. M. Barrie's sequence of stories Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. His later role as flying boy hero of Neverland was brought to the stage in Barrie's play Peter Pan (1904), which was transformed into the novel Peter and Wendy in 1911. In a narrative filled with vivid characters, epic battles, pirates, fairies, and fantastic imagination, Peter Pan's adventures capture the spirit of childhood and of rebellion against the role of adulthood in conventional society."."This edition includes the novel and the stories and reproduces the original illustrations by Francis Donkin Bradford and Arthur Rackham. In his Introduction, Jack Zipes sifts through the psychological interpretations that have engaged critics, explores the cultural and literary contexts in which we can appreciate Barrie's enduring creation, and shows why Peter Pan is fundamentally a work that urges adults to reconnect with their own imagination."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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