The complete Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, illustrations by E. H. Shepard

The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had a sort of sudden realisation the other day (driven, might I add, by the discovery of an excellent boxed set in the charity bookshop) that I had never really sat and read the Winnie-the-Pooh stories all the way through from the start. I knew them of course because everybody knows Winnie-the-Pooh, right? It’s one of those franchises that is kind of so embedded into the world culturally that it’s hard to escape. You know this bear. He’s had films made about him, stories told, cartoons made. You know this world.

But I didn’t know the writing, I didn’t know the way these stories felt.

I didn’t know how the wry and lovely little twists in Milne’s language dance off the page and I definitely didn’t know how he uses this stylistic to (so smartly! so well!) develop a completely unique way to tell a story. It looks simple. It isn’t. There’s something very clever and perfect going on here, and even though people will try and emulate Milne’s style for years after this, nobody will ever be able to do it quite like this.

Sometimes I get a little bit lost when it comes to the classics because I spend so much with the books that never got that label. It can be very easy for me to doubt the books that did and do get that status because, quite often, there’s so much in their favour to allow that to happen. They were written at the right time. They were written by the right man. They were lauded by the right critics. The circumstances were good to them.

Sometimes it’s productive for me to remember that a classic can be all of that and more, but it can also be good. Humans contain multitudes, our literature should be no different. And so it is with Winnie-the-Pooh which is good and it is funny and it is incredibly (incredibly!) poignant and it is graceful and it is gentle and it is full of a rather beautiful, endless sunshine. I loved it. I needed it.

(I’ve talked before about how the right book finds you at the right time).

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5 thoughts on “The complete Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne, illustrations by E. H. Shepard

  1. My son and I have been slowly making our way through this for almost two years now. We’re almost two-thirds done. We love these too. (We’ve not seen any of the movies so far!)

    1. I love this very much! I keep thinking a lot about the slow sort of steady readings and the value of them – and I think this really is the perfect sort of a book for such an endeavour 🙂

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