Wednesday, August 7, 2019

[Book] Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Book cover
Originally a play, then released in book form as Peter and Wendy, this book is the basis of Disney's cartoon movie, Peter Pan.  The movie is surprisingly faithful to the book with the exception that Disney's version doesn't portray deaths that the book does.

Problematic doesn't begin to describe this experience.  Like a lot of classic literature, defenders will point out that this is a product of its time.  Yet, I was outwardly embarrassed while reading sections of this by just how far out of touch it is.

As much as Wendy was a main character, her experience of Neverland, a fantasy/dream world, included absolutely everyone wanting her to act as their mother, but included actual work, mending everyone else's clothes.

Then there is the Native Americans of imagination land.  Named as a racial slur*, the Piccaninny Tribe follows terrible stereo-types, and a major sub-plot puts Peter Pan as their white savior, leaving near half of the tribe to sacrifice themselves for Pan and the Lost Boys, later.  *Some online sources suggest that the term wasn't a slur until much later, but an awareness of the purveyor has rarely made the recipient feel better.

Read this if you have to, but I don't recommend it.  It's not the worst, or even most problematic book I've read, and parts of it are ripe for stealing for your own stories (since this isn't covered by copyright in most countries these days).  Worse, I'm happy I read it, if only that I can complain about it here.

If you've read it, let me know what you think I got wrong.


Peter Pan
Fantasy, Children's
Project Gutenberg (Originally: Hodder & Stoughton)
Released: 1911
E-book, 192 pages

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