Literary Misunderstandings – WIF Bookshelf

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Widely Misunderstood

Pieces of Writing

Literary critics have invented a host of phrases and concepts to separate artists from their art. By far the best known is “death of the author,” which comes from a 1967 essay by Roland Barthes. Essentially, the notion is to imagine that the author cannot be asked for their intent, or how their own life experiences shaped their writing, so the theorist’s interpretation is at least as valid as the author’s intention–provided said interpretation is reasonably derived from the text.  

While that’s a worthwhile literary exercise, there can be a problem that comes from many people knowing pieces of writing through cultural osmosis instead of actually reading the text. Indeed, sometimes there are aspects of the text that simply aren’t as haunting as the passages in stories that become touchstones. So interpretations of stories can be demonstrably incorrect. As is the case with…

10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

When the 1995 Disney adaption of this movie came out, many critics and audience members were united in decrying the supposed borderline desecration of the original story. They pointed to the 1939 or 1920 versions of the story as proper adaptations, which properly portrayed the unsavory nature of Quasimodo, the tragic fate of the gypsy Esmeralda, clergyman Claude Frollo, and so on… and all in the shadow of one of the most celebrated buildings in French history.

It was a criticism completely undermined by how Victor Hugo wrote the original 1831 version of the story. As Lindsay Ellis explains in her highly recommended video essay, in the original novel, Quasimodo is a mere bit part and certainly not a sympathetic figure. There’s no tragic romance with the gypsy Esmeralda, who it turns out was actually a Caucasian abandoned as a child. In brief, Hugo didn’t write his novel as a tragedy, so much as a tribute to the cathedral itself, which at the time of writing was less a French institution than a wreck that had been vandalized numerous times over the centuries and neglected.

That Hugo’s sympathies were with the building over the people who lived in and around it is much less surprising to anyone who knows that the original title was “Notre-Dame de Paris” and that he did not approve of the English title change. Perhaps that theme would resonate with misanthropic architecture students, but it certainly wouldn’t have been the crowd-pleaser many subsequent adaptations have been

9. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving’s 1820 story, set in a Dutch community in 1790s New York (loosely based on real events), as we all know is about a schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane, who gets chased by a headless horseman across a bridge. When the horseman can’t catch him, he throws a pumpkin at Crane. Those who read an abridged version in class might remember that it was heavily implied that Brom Bones was pretending to be the Headless Hessian Horseman to scare off Crane so that he could marry Katrina Van Tassel without any competition from superstitious schoolteachers. Considering Ichabod disappears and Bones gets what he wants through pretty underhanded and aggressive means, it seems like this slice of Americana should be a pretty dark, spooky tale where the villain wins in the end, be he ghost or local tough guy in disguise.

Readers have that impression because many of them lost track of how odious a person Irving wrote Ichabod Crane to be. Like many schoolteachers of the time, Crane is described as having romantic interest purely for financial reasons (Irving explicitly describes him as looking at her father’s fortune with “green eyes”). He’s also explicitly a mooch and a glutton, only getting away with it because he knows a lot of local ghost lore. The story also ends with a postscript noting there was talk in Sleepy Hollow that Crane was seen again later, having moved to another community and becoming a judge. However, the locals rejected that because his supposed disappearance made for a better story. If anything, Irving went overboard in assuring audiences not to worry about ol’ Ichabod.

8. Jabberwocky

Lewis Caroll’s titular monster, which was first introduced to readers in Alice Through the Looking Glass, has been portrayed as a serious beast in such adaptations as the 1985 movie. Even those who know better than to portray such serious versions of the monsters from the poem assume that “slivey toves” and “more raths” from the opening verse mean “unidentifiable beasts,” such as in the version done for The Muppet Show.

Jabberwocky’s origin was in 1855, in a magazine called Misch-Masch, which had a circulation of Lewis Carroll’s immediate family. It was not only meant as a parody of folk poems, but he actually handily explained what all the words meant, so those terms aren’t so much nonsense as coded. For example, “slivy toves” are actually cheese-eating badgers. “Mome Raths” are turtles. Bryllyg is said to be the early afternoon, as it refers to the time of broiling dinner. All things considered, the opening verse is much closer to a slightly offbeat version of Wind in the Willowsthan it is a surreal menagerie of cryptids.

7. Harrison Bergeron

In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1961 short story, equality is perverted so that every exceptional person is limited to be no better than the worst performing person, either by restraints that weigh them down or by zapping them if they think too much. This idea has been embraced by right wing publications like National Review. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cited it in a ruling requiring tournament golfers to walk between shots.

What they don’t seem to notice is the portrayal of the eponymous character. As critics have more recently pointed out, Bergeron is a ridiculously overpowered human being who not only stands 7-feet tall at age 14, he is also literally capable of flying as he dances (once he removes his restraints that weigh hundreds of pounds). More revealingly, he proclaims himself “emperor,” which probably isn’t something Vonnegut would have a “heroic” character do.

He also makes this declaration and displays his powers on live television, which of course means that the Handicapper General Diana Moon Glampers would have no trouble hunting him down and shooting him, as she does seemingly effortlessly in the story. Clearly, Bergeron is a parody of the Howard Roark and John Gault-type supermen that are so perfect and so, so underappreciated in Ayn Rand’s novels. Considering Vonnegut’s left-wing views throughout his writing career, it’s objectivism that’s in his sights at least as much as socialism.

6. The Satanic Verses

When it was published in 1988, author Salman Rushdie struck free publicity gold when his book was interpreted as blasphemous and banned in India while the Ayatollah demanded his head. He surely didn’t celebrate this, as he had to go into hiding from very real threats. Several translators of the book were attacked—one fatally. Considering that the book is a formidable 600 pages long, it’s not so surprising that many people didn’t read the entire story and were content to go off a vague sense of what the novel was about, or a heavily abridged version.

The Satanic Verses tells the intertwined stories of two Southeast Asian Muslims, one born wealthy and the other poor. The pair both survive a plane crash, and the rich one becomes cursed (one way is he smells bad) while the other becomes angelic. Still, the rich one survives the novel while the other commits suicide while wanted for murder (he is unambiguously responsible for several deaths). The offending portions of the book are a secondary narrative of a few dozen pages about the rise of the prophet Mahound, written in an approximation of Koranic verse.

The “Satanic Verses” of the title are an allusion to a claim by the prophet that, for some contradictory statements he made, it must have been Satan pretending to be Allah. In a manner that paralleled a scene that offended many in The Last Temptation of Christ, Rushdie styled his parody of the prophet as a very elaborate dream sequence to give him plausible deniability that he was portraying an in-universe, fictional version. The version many Muslims were given, however, only showed the dream sequence without the larger context, and so inevitably it misled many on the intent of the book.

5. Valley of the Dolls

These days, this 1966 novel is better known for selling forty million copies than it is for its contents. Its story of three women who try to enter show business but run into such pitfalls as creative compromise, sexual exploitation, and drug addiction(the “dolls” of the title are upper/downer pills) was so salacious for its time that it couldn’t help but become one of, literally, the bestselling books of all-time. No wonder it got a couple film adaptations: a much derided smash hit in 1968, and a TV movie in 1981.

An aspect of the literary juggernaut that, for decades, was held up as the impetus for its success was the titillation of guessing which characters were modeled on which specific real people. For example, was the character that had a pill addiction Judy Garland? Was the over-the-hill singer who stands in the protagonist’s way based on Ethel Merman? According to Jacqueline Susann, the answer to all these guesses was “no” and that all of the characters were invented to fit a theme instead of to reveal the truth behind a real entertainer’s persona. She eventually said of the misconception, “Let them think that, it sells more of my books.”

4. Dracula

Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic isn’t just one of the two most influential horror novels of the 19th century (alongside Frankenstein). For many outside Central or Eastern Europe, it was the popularity of Dracula that led them to learn of 15th century Romanian ruler Vladislav III, better known as Vlad the Impaler. Deposed early in life, Vlad fought against both the Ottoman Empire and fellow Romanians and eventually died in battle, but not before leaving behind battlefields laden with impaled prisoners of war as an attempt to demoralize his enemies. Such a person seems tailor-made to inspire a monster in human shape.

Which completely misunderstands Stoker’s real writing process. It’s not so much that he didn’t carefully study Vlad Tepisch’s life for inspiration for his iconic character, as there’s no evidence that he even knew the bygone monarch had existed. In 1890 (the year he began working on it) he noted that he read a book on Westphalia and came across the word Dracula, but he misinterpreted it as being the local word for “evil.” While Vlad is from approximately the same area of Europe as Dracula, Vlad was certainly not much associated with Transylvania, which would have been a key connection to invoking the memory of the historical figure. In short, Stoker seemed to have more lucked into the historical echoes than anything else.

3. The Great Gatsby

Nearly 80 years after its initial disappointing release in 1925, F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age triumph sells roughly 500,000 copies a year. It’s resonated with readers enough to make its way to the silver screen in 1926, 1949, 1976, and 2013. Each release was greeted with a critical thrashing and to very mixed results at the box office.

But that’s not to say readers, who generally regard themselves as more astute than movie fans, don’t mistake Fitzgerald’s intention with Gatsby. As explained by Sarah Churchwell in The Guardian, most people misinterpret Gatsby as being a suave charmer. There are a few telling descriptions that undermine this: His pink suits (tacky even in the Roaring ’20s) and his bewilderment in the face of the high society that narrator Nick Carraway takes for granted. That’s why he overcompensates for his parties, doing such things as hire entire orchestras. Gatsby is a dreamer, pining for the fantasy version from his youth of his neighbor Daisy Buchanan, not a man with his feet on the ground in the present. Not that this dissonance is anything new: Fitzgerald wrote back in the day that, “Of all the reviews, even the most enthusiastic, not one has the slightest idea what the book was about.”

2. Don Quixote

It’s been just over 400 years since Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece was first published in English. Since then, the image of a nobleman putting a washing basin on his head, taking a nag for a noble steed and his trusty assistant Sancho Panza on a number of delusional, pointless quests in an attempt to restore chivalry to the land has only become more poignant. Don Quixote is both absurd and loveable, and many readers have mixed feelings about the ending where he regains his sanity enough to dictate in his will that his niece be disinherited if she marries a man who reads books of chivalry.

As recounted in the New York Times, the title character actually comes across as much less sympathetic when you really look at the text. While Quixote means well, Cervantes does not skimp on the details of the pain he causes. Not just to his assistant Sancho Panza (who gets beat up because Quixote doesn’t pay a hotel bill), but even mules that can’t drink from their water trough because Quixote insists the water is holy. It’s an aspect of the story that is understandably omitted from adaptations such as Man of La Mancha, which contributed to those interpretations being dismissed as “kitsch.”

1. Slaughterhouse Five

Well, when an author writes as many famous satirical, morally complex, and whimsical stories as Kurt Vonnegut did, it’s not surprising that he’d have multiple works end up on lists like this. So it is with his 1969 anti-war classic (that he self-deprecatingly called his “famous Dresden novel”) about a WWII veteran named Billy Pilgrim, whose subjective experience of his life jumps back and forward through time. Within the intro of the book, Vonnegut quotes an associate who asked authors writing anti-war books why they didn’t instead write an “anti-glacier book.” Meaning, of course, that the human tendency towards war is as implacable as glaciers.

A similar sentiment is expressed by the alien race called the Tralfamadorians, who consider their own atrocities and eventual destruction of the universe as utterly inevitable, because they can see the entirety of all the time they live, all at once. Hence many have viewed it as a pro-fatalism book as they wonder whether the events of the book are real or not.

The text makes explicit that the aliens don’t exist. Within the book, the aliens Billy Pilgrim meets, and the environment they place him in (specifically a zoo), are described as something he read in a novel by hack sci-fi author Kilgore Trout. Further, Pilgrim does not express anything to anyone else about the aliens until after a plane crash that leaves him unconscious (i.e., likely with brain damage and trauma). As Michael Carson of Wrath-BearingTree.com points out, when Pilgrim first discusses the lessons he supposedly learned about the inevitability of war and the atrocities that come from it, it’s with a war hawk named Rumfoord, who Vonnegut mocks. Pilgrim merely echoes Rumfoord and then says he learned all of what Rumfoord told him on Tralfamadore.

On the other hand, Vonnegut also makes it explicit that the Tralfamadorians believe they will eventually destroy the universe. Vonnegut’s message isn’t that war and atrocities are inevitable, but that to follow this fatalist philosophy (that could come from absurd aliens that are the result of head trauma) makes its adherents into puppets, and leads to disaster for everyone.


Literary Misunderstandings –

WIF Bookshelf

Christopher Robin – (In Theaters Now) Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

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The Real Story

of

Christopher Robin

Decades before we had child stars on TV, a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne was thrust into the spotlight and became the most famous child of his lifetime. Even to this day, a version of him is still portrayed in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon, and movies are still being made about his life, including Goodbye Christopher Robin in 2017, and the upcoming 2018 film starring Ewan McGregor called Christopher Robin.

But just how accurate are these films, and are they anything like the true life of Christopher Robin? While the well-loved origin story of Winnie the Pooh begins as a journey into the innocence of childhood, the true story becomes quite dark, and everyone involved in the creation of the books eventually regretted it.

Alan Alexander Milne was Christopher Robin’s father, and the creator of Winnie the Pooh. Long before he wrote children’s stories, Milne was a comedy writer and editor at Punch magazine, as well as an acclaimed playwright. After serving in World War I, he found it difficult to continue writing comedy, and wanted to talk about the politics of war instead.

Milne lived with his wife, Daphne, and his son Christopher in London, but he decided that they needed a place to get away from the big city, so he purchase a summer home near Ashdown Forest in Sussex, which is also known as the Five Hundred Acre Wood. This, of course, served as inspiration for Pooh’s “Hundred Acre Wood.”

While he was taking time to write in the country, Milne came to the conclusion that after years of tragedy, people were ready to move on, and they were not ready to read about his thoughts on war. They desperately wanted to read happy stories, and comedy. He drew inspiration from his own source of happiness, which was his 6-year-old son, Christopher Robin.

The boy loved playing in the woods with his stuffed animal teddy bear, which he received as a baby. His mother named the bear “Edward,” but he decided to change its name to Winnie, after seeing a Canadian bear at the London zoo called Winnipeg. Over the years, Daphne continued to buy her son more stuffed animals from Harrods department store, including a donkey, kangaroo, tiger, and tiny piglet. As an only child, Christopher Robin often played by himself and with his nanny, and his mother helped to encourage him to play pretend with his collection of animal friends.

One day, Milne was inspired to write down a poem about Christopher Robin saying his prayers before going to bed. He titled it “Vespers,” and gave it to his wife as a gift. It was later published in Vanity Fair magazine. The public loved reading the sweet poem about the little boy, and they wanted more. Once word got out that this little character was actually the author’s son, suddenly every newspaper and radio show wanted an interview with Christopher Robin.

After working in the magazine industry for years, Milne knew that they needed to take advantage of this hype and sell more stories. He asked his friend and co-worker, E.H. Shephard, to draw the illustrations. So he set out working on writing about Christopher Robin. The stories were loosely based on his son’s imaginary adventures. He published a collection of poems called Now We Are Six, and he eventually switch from poetry to children’s fiction about Winnie the Pooh.

The public absolutely loved Christopher Robin. He received fan letters on a daily basis.. He was taken to public events, narrated stories, and performed in a play about Winnie the Pooh. Like most child stars, he actually loved the fame and attention he was getting. It made him feel special to know that everyone wanted to be his friend. Since he was enjoying it so much, his parents continued to push him into the spotlight, and enjoyed the benefits of being rich and famous.

Even if his parents were blinded by fame, his aunt and uncle did not approve, and they spoke up about how he was being robbed of a normal childhood. Once Milne realized this as well, he chose to stop publishing Winnie the Pooh stories. However, even though he stopped making new books, there was still a demand for reprints, and the hype never died down. Even when he tried to go back to writing for adults, critics would just compare Milne’s work to the children’s stories, claiming that his new characters in a play were just “Christopher Robin grown up.”

Milne wasn’t the only one whose work suffered after Pooh. The illustrator, E.H. Shepherd, was the political cartoonist for Punch Magazine. He saw his work with Milne as a side-gig, and a favor for a friend. After the books became so popular, it overshadowed the work he was doing with political cartoons. He was criticized for copying the styles of other illustrators, and the jokes were never good enough to stand the test of time. While Winnie the Pooh was arguably his best work, he resented that it was his legacy. Whenever anyone mentioned the books to him, he called Pooh “that silly old bear.”

In 1930, when Christopher Robin was 10-years-old, his parents decided that it was time to remove their son out of the public eye and try to give him an education. He was sent to boarding school, and his magical childhood came crashing down when all of the boys started to bully and tease him about Winnie the Pooh. Over time, he grew to hate the stories, and resented his father for exposing his real name and likeness all over the world.

He went to college at Cambridge, and he joined the army at the beginning of World War II. When he was discharged from the military, he started applying to jobs, but every single employer would recognize his name, and asked about Winnie the Pooh. Instead of hiring him based on his resume, everyone already felt that they knew him and judged him based on a fictional character. This made Christopher very angry, because he felt as though his father had robbed him of ever being known for his own accomplishments. Technically, the books made the family so rich Christopher Robin didn’t really have to work to earn a living, but he resented the legacy of Winnie the Pooh so much he refused to take any of the money that the books generated, and he wanted to work and support himself like a normal person.

When he was 27-years-old, Christopher Robin met his first cousin from his mother’s side, Lesley de Selincourt. They had never grown up together as children, because his mother, Daphne, was estranged from her family. They fell in love, and got married. We all know in modern times that that’s not a very good idea to marry your first cousin, and his mother strongly disapproved of their relationship. His father, on the other hand, just wanted him to be happy, and gave them his blessing.

After marrying Lesley, they opened up a bookstore together, and started a family. Unfortunately, their close familial DNA came back to bite them when Christopher and Lesley’s daughter Clare was born severely handicapped with cerebral palsy and kyphosis. She needed nurses to be with her 24 hours a day. This was the first time that Christopher reluctantly began accepting some money from the Pooh fortune, but he only took enough to give his daughter the best medical treatments possible. After his father died, Christopher Robin stopped visiting his mother, because their relationship was beyond repair. They never saw one another again. Even on her deathbed, she said that she did not want to see him.

Milne passed away in 1952, and Disney first bought the rights to use the Winnie the Pooh characters in the 1960s. They paid the Milne estate royalties twice each year. In 2001, they decided to make it official, and purchased the characters for a lump sum of $350 million. Since Christopher Robin refused to take any of the money for himself, all of it went to the Royal Literary Society, and The Garrick Club in London. Clare was given $44 million, which was used for her care in a treatment facility. While this sounds like a massive amount of money, Disney has made a huge return on investment. They make $2 billion every single year from Winnie the Pooh.

By the time he was in his 60s, Christopher Robin said that he could finally look at the Winnie the Pooh books without cringing. He began to make public appearances again, and donated his stuffed animals to the New York City Library, which is where they remain to this day. Christopher passed away in 1996.

There is a plaque in A.A. Milne’s honor in the Five Hundred Acre Wood, and children still travel there to see where the real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin once played. While Winnie the Pooh may have caused some pain to the people who created him, the stories that were left behind have made children all over the world happy, and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Christopher Robin –

Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Christopher Robin – Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

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The Real Story

of

Christopher Robin

Decades before we had child stars on TV, a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne was thrust into the spotlight and became the most famous child of his lifetime. Even to this day, a version of him is still portrayed in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon, and movies are still being made about his life, including Goodbye Christopher Robin in 2017, and the upcoming 2018 film starring Ewan McGregor called Christopher Robin.

But just how accurate are these films, and are they anything like the true life of Christopher Robin? While the well-loved origin story of Winnie the Pooh begins as a journey into the innocence of childhood, the true story becomes quite dark, and everyone involved in the creation of the books eventually regretted it.

Alan Alexander Milne was Christopher Robin’s father, and the creator of Winnie the Pooh. Long before he wrote children’s stories, Milne was a comedy writer and editor at Punch magazine, as well as an acclaimed playwright. After serving in World War I, he found it difficult to continue writing comedy, and wanted to talk about the politics of war instead.

Milne lived with his wife, Daphne, and his son Christopher in London, but he decided that they needed a place to get away from the big city, so he purchase a summer home near Ashdown Forest in Sussex, which is also known as the Five Hundred Acre Wood. This, of course, served as inspiration for Pooh’s “Hundred Acre Wood.”

While he was taking time to write in the country, Milne came to the conclusion that after years of tragedy, people were ready to move on, and they were not ready to read about his thoughts on war. They desperately wanted to read happy stories, and comedy. He drew inspiration from his own source of happiness, which was his 6-year-old son, Christopher Robin.

The boy loved playing in the woods with his stuffed animal teddy bear, which he received as a baby. His mother named the bear “Edward,” but he decided to change its name to Winnie, after seeing a Canadian bear at the London zoo called Winnipeg. Over the years, Daphne continued to buy her son more stuffed animals from Harrods department store, including a donkey, kangaroo, tiger, and tiny piglet. As an only child, Christopher Robin often played by himself and with his nanny, and his mother helped to encourage him to play pretend with his collection of animal friends.

One day, Milne was inspired to write down a poem about Christopher Robin saying his prayers before going to bed. He titled it “Vespers,” and gave it to his wife as a gift. It was later published in Vanity Fair magazine. The public loved reading the sweet poem about the little boy, and they wanted more. Once word got out that this little character was actually the author’s son, suddenly every newspaper and radio show wanted an interview with Christopher Robin.

After working in the magazine industry for years, Milne knew that they needed to take advantage of this hype and sell more stories. He asked his friend and co-worker, E.H. Shephard, to draw the illustrations. So he set out working on writing about Christopher Robin. The stories were loosely based on his son’s imaginary adventures. He published a collection of poems called Now We Are Six, and he eventually switch from poetry to children’s fiction about Winnie the Pooh.

The public absolutely loved Christopher Robin. He received fan letters on a daily basis.. He was taken to public events, narrated stories, and performed in a play about Winnie the Pooh. Like most child stars, he actually loved the fame and attention he was getting. It made him feel special to know that everyone wanted to be his friend. Since he was enjoying it so much, his parents continued to push him into the spotlight, and enjoyed the benefits of being rich and famous.

Even if his parents were blinded by fame, his aunt and uncle did not approve, and they spoke up about how he was being robbed of a normal childhood. Once Milne realized this as well, he chose to stop publishing Winnie the Pooh stories. However, even though he stopped making new books, there was still a demand for reprints, and the hype never died down. Even when he tried to go back to writing for adults, critics would just compare Milne’s work to the children’s stories, claiming that his new characters in a play were just “Christopher Robin grown up.”

Milne wasn’t the only one whose work suffered after Pooh. The illustrator, E.H. Shepherd, was the political cartoonist for Punch Magazine. He saw his work with Milne as a side-gig, and a favor for a friend. After the books became so popular, it overshadowed the work he was doing with political cartoons. He was criticized for copying the styles of other illustrators, and the jokes were never good enough to stand the test of time. While Winnie the Pooh was arguably his best work, he resented that it was his legacy. Whenever anyone mentioned the books to him, he called Pooh “that silly old bear.”

In 1930, when Christopher Robin was 10-years-old, his parents decided that it was time to remove their son out of the public eye and try to give him an education. He was sent to boarding school, and his magical childhood came crashing down when all of the boys started to bully and tease him about Winnie the Pooh. Over time, he grew to hate the stories, and resented his father for exposing his real name and likeness all over the world.

He went to college at Cambridge, and he joined the army at the beginning of World War II. When he was discharged from the military, he started applying to jobs, but every single employer would recognize his name, and asked about Winnie the Pooh. Instead of hiring him based on his resume, everyone already felt that they knew him and judged him based on a fictional character. This made Christopher very angry, because he felt as though his father had robbed him of ever being known for his own accomplishments. Technically, the books made the family so rich Christopher Robin didn’t really have to work to earn a living, but he resented the legacy of Winnie the Pooh so much he refused to take any of the money that the books generated, and he wanted to work and support himself like a normal person.

When he was 27-years-old, Christopher Robin met his first cousin from his mother’s side, Lesley de Selincourt. They had never grown up together as children, because his mother, Daphne, was estranged from her family. They fell in love, and got married. We all know in modern times that that’s not a very good idea to marry your first cousin, and his mother strongly disapproved of their relationship. His father, on the other hand, just wanted him to be happy, and gave them his blessing.

After marrying Lesley, they opened up a bookstore together, and started a family. Unfortunately, their close familial DNA came back to bite them when Christopher and Lesley’s daughter Clare was born severely handicapped with cerebral palsy and kyphosis. She needed nurses to be with her 24 hours a day. This was the first time that Christopher reluctantly began accepting some money from the Pooh fortune, but he only took enough to give his daughter the best medical treatments possible. After his father died, Christopher Robin stopped visiting his mother, because their relationship was beyond repair. They never saw one another again. Even on her deathbed, she said that she did not want to see him.

Milne passed away in 1952, and Disney first bought the rights to use the Winnie the Pooh characters in the 1960s. They paid the Milne estate royalties twice each year. In 2001, they decided to make it official, and purchased the characters for a lump sum of $350 million. Since Christopher Robin refused to take any of the money for himself, all of it went to the Royal Literary Society, and The Garrick Club in London. Clare was given $44 million, which was used for her care in a treatment facility. While this sounds like a massive amount of money, Disney has made a huge return on investment. They make $2 billion every single year from Winnie the Pooh.

By the time he was in his 60s, Christopher Robin said that he could finally look at the Winnie the Pooh books without cringing. He began to make public appearances again, and donated his stuffed animals to the New York City Library, which is where they remain to this day. Christopher passed away in 1996.

There is a plaque in A.A. Milne’s honor in the Five Hundred Acre Wood, and children still travel there to see where the real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin once played. While Winnie the Pooh may have caused some pain to the people who created him, the stories that were left behind have made children all over the world happy, and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Christopher Robin –

Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Dreams = Books = Movies – WIF Entertainment

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Books and Movies

Inspired by Dreams

Dreams are a combination of pictures and stories that develop in our minds while we sleep. Dreams can be about literally anything from something funny, to romantic, or even terrifying. While 95% of dreams are not usually remembered, it is believed that people dream anywhere from three to six times per night with each one lasting between five and twenty minutes.

While most dreams are never remembered, some people do recall specific details about them. And on a few rare occasions, people have been inspired by what they dreamed of. As a matter of fact, some great creations were developed from actual dreams. For example, the melody for the Beatles’ song “Yesterday“ was inspired by a dream. Paul McCartney woke up one morning with a tune stuck in his head that he didn’t recognize, so he composed the chords for it on the piano and it became the music for one of their most famous songs.

Another example is that of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. It has been said that many of his poems and short stories were inspired by the many nightmares he suffered from throughout his life.

There are also several famous books and movies that were inspired by actual dreams, 10 of which we’ll detail below…

10. E.B. White’s Stuart Little

The beloved children’s story of a mouse named Stuart Little was inspired by a dream that E.B. White had in the 1920s. The anything-but-ordinary mouse was born into a family of humans in New York City and lived with his parents, his older brother George, and a cat named Snowbell. While White had the dream in the ’20s, it was only put into a novel in 1945.

While he was sleeping on a train, White dreamt of a little boy who looked and acted a lot like a mouse. He wrote a few episodes about the boy/mouse and put them away with the intent of sharing the stories one day with his nieces and nephews. But around twenty years later his story became a best-seller and even inspired the 1999 hit movie Stuart Little, which starred Michael J. Fox as the voice of the mouse.

9. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

In the mid-1970s, William Styron was struggling to come up with ideas to write another book. That’s when he experienced a dream that would inspire him to write Sophie’s Choice. He described the dream as “a merging from the dream to a conscious vision and a memory of this girl named Sophie. And it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt knowledge that I was going to deal with this work of fiction.” His vision of Sophie was that of her “entering the hallway of this humble boarding house in Flatbush with a book under her arm, looking very beautiful in the middle of summer with a soft of summer dress on and her arm bared and the tattoo visible.”

He felt like he had to write the Holocaust-themed story and in 1982 an acclaimed movie was made starring Meryl Streep as Sophie.

8. Christopher Nolan’s Inception

The 2010 psychological thriller Inception, a movie that is itself about dreams, was inspired by actual dreams. Director Christopher Nolan took the idea from his own lucid dreams for his seventh feature film. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a talented thief who is very skilled at stealing secrets from people while they are dreaming. This new job, however, requires him to plant an idea inside the mind of a man instead of stealing it.

Nolan claims that Inception was an elusive dream. He said “I wanted to do this for a very long time; it’s something I’ve thought about off and on since I was about 16.” He also mentioned that ever since he was a kid, he was fascinated by how he would wake up and then fall back into a lighter sleep but still know that he was dreaming, and even manage to examine the location of his dreams.

7. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novel written in the 1800s by Robert Louis Stevenson (pictured above) and is about a man who has a split personality – the good Dr. Jekyll, and the terrible Mr. Hyde.

It is said that Stevenson was fascinated with split personality disorder but was unable to figure out how to put it into writing. However, one night he dreamt about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “In the small hours of one morning… I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis,” his wife Fanny explained. “Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.’”

Stevenson was apparently sick with tuberculosis and under doctor’s order to rest when he wrote the novel. He produced the first draft of 30,000 words in between three to six days, followed by a second rewritten copy in just three more days. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sold 40,000 copies in just six months, followed by over 250,000 copies in North America. His novel has also inspired several movies over the years.

6. Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher

In 1999, Stephen King was hit by a minivan when he was walking down a road in Maine. During the time that he was recovering from a shattered leg and a collapsed lung, he started to have vivid dreams, which inspired him to write his horror novel Dreamcatcher.

The novel is about four friends who reunite in the woods each year for their annual hunting trip. But one year a stranger ends up at their camp, all confused and muttering about lights in the sky. The friends are then faced with a terrifying creature from another world and need to figure out how to survive.

He was quoted telling the San Francisco Chronicle, “The first really strong idea that occurred to me after the accident was four guys in a cabin in the woods. Then you introduce this one guy who staggers into the camp saying, ‘I don’t feel well,’ and he brings this awful hitchhiker with him. I dreamed a lot about that cabin and those guys in it.”

The novel was turned into a movie in 2003, which featured a who’s who of both on and off-camera talent, including Morgan Freeman and Lawrence Kasdan.

5. Stephen King’s Misery

Not surprisingly, Stephen King came up with the idea for his horror novel Misery from a nightmare. It is about a famous author who is rescued from a car crash by his number one fan. However, he soon realizes that the crazy fan has other ideas in store for him that include abuse and captivity.

King was quoted saying “Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream. In fact, it happened when I was on Concord, flying over here, to Brown’s (hotel in England). I fell asleep on the plane and dreamt about a woman who held a writer prisoner and killed him, skinned him, fed the remains to her pig and bound his novel in human skin. I said to myself, ‘I have to write this story.’” And that’s exactly what he did. He wrote the first forty or fifty pages on the landing between the ground level and first floor of the hotel.

While his book was published in 1987, the movie Misery was released in 1990, starring James Caan and Kathy Bates.

4. Jason Mott’s The Returned

The Returned is a novel written by Jason Mott about an elderly couple who have a government agent show up at their home with their son. The only thing is, their son drowned fifty years ago on his eighth birthday. The boy looks and acts the same, but there’s no possible way that it could be their deceased son. Or could it?

In an interview with CNN, Mott described how the idea for the book came to him in a dream about his deceased mother. “In the summer of 2010, I had this dream that I came home from work one day and found my mother sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me.” He went on to say, “I came in and sat down with her, and we just talked about everything that had happened since her death.” He explained, “It was one of these really vivid dreams where you wake up and question whether it was real or not.”

He wrote a short story about a couple whose son returns from the dead and received a great response to it, so he continued writing it and a year later he had finished his manuscript which turned out to be a best-seller. It was later turned into a television series.

3. James Cameron’s Terminator

The 1984 hit movie The Terminator starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a futuristic cyborg sent back in time to assassinate a woman whose unborn son will lead humans in a war against machines.

Director/writer James Cameron was staying at a hotel in Rome while working on Piranha II: The Spawning when a horrible flu and high fever hit him, causing him to have nightmares. In fact, he dreamt of a chrome torso appearing from an explosion and dragging itself with kitchen knives across the floor right at him.

He recalled when he came up with the idea for Terminator, “I was sick at the time. I had a high fever. I was just lying on the bed thinking and came up with all this bizarre imagery… I think also had the idea that because I was in a foreign city by myself and I felt very dissociated from humanity in general, it was very easy to project myself into these two characters from the future who were out of sync, out of time, out of place.”

2. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight

Twilight is the story of a modern day love triangle between a vampire, a werewolf, and a human. The idea for the book came to author Stephenie Meyer in a dream. She explained her dream by saying “It was two people in kind of a little circular meadow with a really bright sunlight, and one of them was a beautiful, sparkly boy and one was just a girl who was human and normal, and they were having this conversation. The boy was a vampire, which is so bizarre that I’d be dreaming about vampires, and he was trying to explain to her how much he cared about her and yet at the same time how much he wanted to kill her.”

Prior to being a best-selling author, Meyer was a stay-at-home mother who was an avid reader but was never a writer. At first, she documented the dream so that she would remember it with no expectation of making it into a novel. But after nine rejections, her dream became a reality and her story is now known throughout the world by her Twilight books and movies.

1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

In 1816, Mary Godwin and her fiancé, Percy Shelley, visited Lord Byron’s residence in Switzerland. During stormy nights, Lord Byron, who was a poet, would get his guests to read ghost stories to each other. One night, he asked his guests to write down their own horror stories.

After the request, this is what Mary claimed happened to her: “When I place my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think… I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some power engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.” She described in great detail the dream that frightened her that night – the dream that inspired her famous novel, Frankenstein.


Dreams = Books = Movies

WIF Entertainment

The NULL Solution = Episode 167

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The NULL Solution = Episode 167

…Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Daddy…

Eridanus is in on the otherwise inside joke. Skaldic makes sure that his planet receives Harmonia’s message of peace loud and clear. Not a single solitary soul in the Milky Way has a greater appreciation of a universe administrated by the concept of equal footing.

Ekcello, Cerella and the rest of the Gifted are listening and learning. Keen attention is required. They have a unique duopolistic connection out at the Terran territory, just as they have witness a multicultural melting pot at home.

Who knew that a doomed exploratory mission an eon ago would eventually lead to this?

That they would abandon spaceflight only to be drawn back in with both feet?

To think, that they thought they had things all figured out.

For Celeste, Deke and Deimostra, the “plan” is finally coming together, as accidentally as it may be.

“Dad and Skaldic are on their way home,” declares a watchful Deke.

Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Sampson. “What about Chasonn? It is his ship.”

“Yes of course, him too – ‘rub a dub – dub, three men in a tub’.”

“What kind of nonsense is that Deke?”

“It is a nursery rhyme that Mom sang to me while she bathed me. Haven’t you ever had a bath?”

She can only glare, until Mom recites:

“Rub-a-dub-dub,

Three men in a tub,

And who do you think they were?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick-maker,

They all sailed out to sea,

‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

 

Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair

 

 Rub a dub dub,

Three fools in a tub,

And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick maker.

Turn them out, knaves all three.”

“Daddy is the knave. Skaldic and Chasonn are knights and gentlemen.”

“Are you sure?”


The NULL Solution =

THE ARTWORK OF JOHN TRABBIC III

Episode 167


page 163

Author Quirks and Habits – A Custom-Writing.Org Production

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Author Quirks and Habits

 A Custom-Writing.Org

Production

Please enjoy this article by my friend Jack Milgram


 Author Quirks and Habits

– A Custom-Writing.Org Production

The NULL Solution = Episode 110

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The NULL Solution = Episode 110

…In a fashion, much like the members of the ancient NEWFOUNDLANDER crew, the Defender makes off with valuable Earth treasure…

Sampson & Son have not seen the Heinlein’s Green Hills of Earth for a very long time. Cruising handily past 6 planetary orbits and beneath a crescent moon, the alien spacecraft named Defender silently glides down next to the homestead both men have been longing to see. For Sam it has been 24 years, for Deke, his 4 years seems like an eternity.

Aside from remodeling, updating and a brand new barn, locating Cerella and Joyner was relatively easy. To avoid from alarming Roy, Francine, Gus, Mindy and Marscie is priority one. Doing so would unnecessarily complicate the operation by upsetting Earth’s timestem, as well as the King Ranch equilibrium.

Deke McKinney barely recognizes his earthen-ized mate, who he suspects had suspected such a mission would come to pass, even after her parapsychological ties were severed by the birth of their son. She had told Joyner many stories of his father and the planet from which they came, seeing that the worlds are as opposite as opposite can be.

As Deke hugs him for the first time, Cerella explains to the child, who is sprouting like a weed, “There will be time to acquaint after we return to Eridanus. Remember your experience here with fondness, my son. The emotional ties of these people is strong, to be treasured for all time.”

Sam has wandered off to the west wing to have a gander at his other grandchild. How could he resist the temptation? It takes every ounce of his strength not to wake Gus’s sleeping Marscie. He cannot help but lament the circumstances that caused the Space Family McKinney to be separated by trillions of miles, not just another wing of the sprawling ranch home, but he does.

In a fashion, much like the members of the ancient NEWFOUNDLANDER crew, the Defender makes off with valuable Earth treasure, this time in the form of living creatures. However, on this occasion, the aliens leave behind a calling card, in the form of Celeste McKinney’s love/”kidnapping” note, discovered by Francine Bouchette-Crippen, on the island counter in the main kitchen at King Ranch, in Waller County Texas USA. She is up early to make breakfast. There will be two less place settings on this most melancholy of mornings.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 110


page 109