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Sacred Space

Joseph Campbell said: "Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again." This is my sacred space, in the midst of a jumble of books of no particular denomination in a cavernous dimly-lit library hall, whiling my time away among the musty pages while the world busy destroying itself outside. You are welcome, fellow reader, to share this space.

Currently reading

Italian Folktales
Italo Calvino
Marilynne Robinson
A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories
The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne image

Have a deep, long look at the image above. That motley crew are undoubtedly the most famous toy animals in existence.

Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga (I cannot see Roo) and (last but not least) Tigger.

A. A. Milne, and established playwright and writer, constructed silly nursery stories and poems for his young son Christopher Robin, built around his beloved toys. He published them. And much to his chagrin, he came to be known as the creator of "Winnie-the-Pooh": all his "serious" works were forgotten!

Read this book, and you will understand why.

True, nothing much happens in the stories. There are no hair-raising escapades, no dashing adventures and no earth-shaking events. What we have here are a bunch of rather silly animals (the team mentioned above, along with two imaginary ones, Rabbit and Owl) in Hundred Acre Woods, doing a lot of silly things, talking nonsensically (though pompously) most of the time, and making prize fools of themselves. Yet these stories are magical, for adults and children alike.

Christopher Robin is the acknowledged lord of this idyllic kingdom: the stories start when he comes down the stairs, dragging Pooh-bear behind him ("bump, bump, bump") and ends when he goes up the stairs in the same fashion. The cosy world of the nursery transforms itself into a magic land where you can hunt "heffalumps" or go on "expotitions" to the North Pole. The cast of characters are always the same, and the happenings, similar. Where these stories score are in the way the characters are etched. With true English underplayed humour, Milne has invested these stuffed toys with fascinating personalities.

Pooh, the "Bear of Very Little Brain", but subject to occasional flashes of brilliance and bursts of versification.

Piglet, the smallest and weakest of them all but sometimes capable of doing "Very Grand Things".

The clever Rabbit, many a time too much so for his own good.

The pedantic and pompous Owl, who can't restrain himself from holding forth at the slightest provocation.

The long-suffering Eeyore with his never-ending complaints.

The devoted Kanga and her frisky little son Roo, whom she keeps in her pocket.

Happy-go-lucky Tigger, bouncing all over the woods.

These characters are typically English: in fact, they could have stepped out from a P.G.Wodehouse novel. When a child reads these stories, he/ she will enjoy them at their face value; while the perceptive adult will be fascinated by the subtext.

It is no surprise that these stories endure. As Milne says: "...the Forest will always be there...and anybody who is Friendly with Bears can find it." Christopher Robin will grow up; making way for other kids who will take his place. But this imaginary landscape will endure, because "in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

Fantastic book!

P.S. The illustrations by E.H.Shepard should also be mentioned. They are so much a part of the story that we cannot imagine the book without the pictures.