” She told him stories, he taught her to fly”
Maybe all stories are just ladders leading us to the hidden parts of our imaginations.
When I think back on Peter Pan, I think of a girl who wanted to grow up to have awfully big adventures; a girl who put her hand in a strange boys and let him lead her out the window and into the stars.
I don’t think of a calculating and lonely man, tales of loss, suicide, tortured childhood and the soft sinister rumours of paedophilia.
A sweetly innocent bio pic attempted to honour James Barrie’s life, but it was held up as a whitewash, and promptly buried under a slew of articles detailing his life and guessing not only at the truth of his relationship with the Llewellyn Davies boys, but at how this facet of his character, unsubstantiated though it was, bled through in his work.
If Peter Pan was a tale of growing up, it was, for me, not about what was lost, but what we choose to keep. It was the thought of forgetting her mother that brought Wendy home. Nor did I see it as the end of who we are but rather the awakening of who we might be. And as for why Peter remained behind, there may be shadows behind such things, but I cannot imagine the boy I read doing anything but. This was a land where the weather changed with his mood and he could live every day as if it were the greatest adventure of all.
“Feeling that Peter was on his way back, the Neverland had again woke into life. We ought to use the pluperfect and say wakened, but woke is better and was always used by Peter..”
To overlay adult schadenfreude, gossip and innuendo is to reduce the wonder of this book and what it has meant to countless children. Few of us carry our first love into adulthood, a bittersweet truth maybe, but the memory never leaves us, a perfect unchanging constant we can forever return to. The same can be said for our first literary loves. This is the greatest inspiration I have ever had, a truly wonderful yet underestimated tale that turned morning into a destination, gave hearts to the stars above us and whose lyrical beauty can be felt across all of literature.
“None of them knew. Perhaps it was best not to know. Their ignorance gave them one more glad hour; and as it was to be their last hour on the island, let us rejoice that there were sixty glad minutes in it..”