In addition to remarkable notes on automobiles (Toad drove an Armstrong Hardcastle Special Eight), picnics, Gypsies, caravans, old English mansions, peculiar dukes, and even modern manifestations (Disney's "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride"), scholar Annie Gauger has uncovered extraordinary new material on Kenneth Grahame, his troubled family life, and the origins of the story. Her preface puts Grahame's work in historical and literary context, and she provides biographies of all the illustrators. --from publisher description
I melted into giddy bliss last night when I came upon this passage:
"Never in his life had he seen a river before-this sleek, sinous,full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver-glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small,by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea."
Sigh. This is now my all time favorite bookd. Ever. I already know it's never going to be replaced.
Another laugh out loud passage is after suffering an intervention by his friends being locked up for his own good (for horrible dangerous driving) , Toad makes a run for it and then STEALS A CAR! . .."the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul. As if in a dream, he found himself somehow, seated in the driver's seat; as if in a dream,...all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious consequences, seemed temporarily suspended...As the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country, he was Toad once more, Toad at his best and highest, Toad the terror, the traffic queller, the Lord of the lone trail, before whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night.
The Wind in the Willows is good for the soul. It has been a long time since I have laughed out loud at a book and since I have been so charmed, so delighted. I'm sorry to find there isn't much else out there by Kenneth Grahame. I know I shall re-read this once a year and whenever I need someting to smile about.(less)