|About this Recording
NA327712 - GRAHAME, K.: Wind in the Willows (The) (Abridged)
THE WIND IN
Read by Martin Jarvis
Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908), a collection of tales
first told to his son, was not originally intended for publication, and was slow
to achieve the extraordinary popularity it enjoys today. A. A. Milne’s dramatization, Toad of Toad Hall (1929), did much to enhance interest in the original text.
Like many of the best children’s books, The Wind in the Willows is deeply appealing to adults, too: quite simply, it is beautifully written, in a style which makes few concessions to its supposed audience, especially in those lyrical passages intended to evoke an English pastoral ideal. And that ideal lies at the heart of the novel: Grahame, writing in the comfortable, prosperous safety of an Edwardian England that seemed destined to last forever, promotes a vision of domestic security perfectly tempered by adventures which are themselves kept within bounds by the reassuring figures of Badger and Otter. These animals are the protectors of Ratty and, above all, of the vulnerable yet brave and sensitive Mole. The boastful Toad threatens to upset the idyll but, again, it is Badger who leads the campaign to bring Toad to his senses and to drive out the presumptuous creatures of the Wild Wood who have taken over Toad Hall.
The novel – if it can be so described – consists of a number of loosely linked tales, which are at first centered on the Mole and his new friend the Water Rat. The circle of friends expands to include, chiefly, Toad and Badger. Mole has to
be taught the ways of the riverbank, but also the limits of the animals’ world:
as Ratty says, ‘beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World…and that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or to me.’ Toad, in turn, must be taught to understand his own limits, and it is the education of Toad which becomes the main narrative thread of The Wind in the Willows.
Drama and excitement are provided by the bombastic, headstrong Toad, whose adventures with motor cars provide some of the best comedy of the book as well as (perhaps) developing Grahame’s bias against a modern, mechanized world which is just beginning to encroach on the pastoral idyll so lovingly brought to life in these enchanting tales.
Notes by Perry Keenlyside
MARTIN JARVIS starred as Jeeves in By Jeeves on Broadway in 2001. His films include the Oscar-winning Titanic and Mrs. Caldicot’s Cabbage War. Countless television appearances in Britain and America include The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Lorna Doone, A Touch of Frost, Murder She Wrote, Space, Inspector Morse and David Copperfield. He is, uniquely, recipient of the British Talkie award and the U.S. Audie award. His continuing series of BBC Just William recordings are audio classics. He received the OBE in 2000 for his services to drama.
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