Wind in the Willows

Charles Butler hannibal at
Sun Jul 6 17:27:54 EDT 2003


> I assumed the squatter's movement as a template, from your comment about
> "anarchists", perhaps erroneously, and certainly that movement was at
> ostensibly intended to provide homes for the homeless or for those who
> couldn't find anywhere within their means to rent.

To be fair I think I may have mentioned squatting too. But when I said
anarchists I was thinking of the type who caused so much disquiet in the
early 1900's (c.f. for example The Man Who Was Thursday), rather than their
more recent incarnations.

> >Didn't someone write a book which tells this whole story from the stoats'
> >and weasels'
> >point of view, incidentally? Which would certainly be relevant to this
> >discussion. Called Wild Wood, or something similar.
> Not relevant, I think, just as a French historical-fiction account of the
> Waterloo campaign would not be particularly relevant to a discussion of
> *Vanity Fair*.

Not relevant to sorting out what 'really' happened in WitW, sure, but
perhaps relevant to the thing that got us started on WitW, i.e. the
role of ideology in the way that a tale is told and understood.
Perhaps we could put *Vanity Fair* up against *Les Miserables* for this
purpose? There's got to be some compensation for having wasted a perfectly
summer reading the latter...

> As in, the Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger are provided by the Rat with an
> extreme collection of weapons preparatory to their entry into Toad Hall,
> but very properly use none of them except sticks?  M'yes.  Definitely a
> class thing, that one.

Yes - they are clearly English gentlemen! (Even if Mole does betray his
ancestry with his battlecry of 'A Mole! A Mole!')

> If the question of how the narrative voice inclines the reader is left to
> one side, and we try to look at what actual offences are committed by any
> party, and what retribution is exacted,

But the first part is really the only part I'm interested in here. I'm
certainly not trying to set myself up as the Weasel's Friend (if you want a
candidate for that role I'll introduce you to my son, a mustelidae fan to
his bones). If we can agree that the narrative does incline us (and, I would
further argue, it inclines us along lines determined partly by beliefs,
images and anxieties to do with class) I'm happy to leave the dispensation
of sylvan justice to the great god Pan.

> >Indeed. If I were an ideological critic (which mantle I have assumed
> >for the purposes of this thread, you understand, and will soon cast off!)
> >would make this point at every opportunity.
> And very dull you would be, too, so I am glad it's going to fade like the
> dew on the mountain shortly.  :-)

Not like soppy mountain dew, Minnow! The mantle-casting image I had in mind
was much more heroic - Odysseus amongst the suitors, perhaps (thanks to
KG's last chapter for that idea). I was only pitched into this
uncharacteristic role, if you remember, by a wish to defend children's lit
against the notion that it has no business with Serious Ideas.

> It actually makes me quite cross that the Old Vicarage is owned by Archer,
> but I expect he (or his fragrant wife) is looking after it well, so I
> not to find their ownership of it distasteful.  Pure unreason and
> prejudice, and I know it.

Though I can just see him saying: 'Mary, that church clock has been standing
at ten to three for an awfully long time now - let's pay to get it fixed!'


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