The Wind in the Willows: An Annotated Edition

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Harvard University Press, May 1, 2009 - Fiction - 273 pages
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Begun as a series of stories told by Kenneth Grahame to his six-year-old son, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the most beloved works of children‚e(tm)s literature ever written. It has been illustrated, famously, by E.H. Shepard and Arthur Rackham, and parts of it were dramatized by A.A. Milne as Toad of Toad Hall. A century after its initial publication it still enchants. Much in Grahame‚e(tm)s novel‚e"the sensitivity of Mole, the mania of Toad, the domesticity of Rat‚e"permeates our imaginative lives (as children and adults). And Grahame‚e(tm)s burnished prose still dazzles. Now comes an annotated edition of The Wind in the Willows by a leading literary scholar that instructs the reader in a larger appreciation of the novel‚e(tm)s charms and serene narrative magic.

In an introduction aimed at a general audience, Seth Lerer tells us everything that we, as adults, need to know about the author and his work. He vividly captures Grahame‚e(tm)s world and the circumstances under which The Wind in the Willows came into being. In his running commentary on the novel, Lerer offers complete annotations to the language, contexts, allusions, and larger texture of Grahame‚e(tm)s prose. Anyone who has read and loved The Wind in the Willows will want to own and cherish this beautiful gift edition. Those coming to the novel for the first time, or returning to it with their own children, will not find a better, more sensitive guide than Seth Lerer.

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About the author (2009)

Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh on March 3, 1859. When he was five years old, his mother died of scarlet fever and he nearly died himself, of the same disease. His father became an alcoholic and sent the children to Berkshire to live with relatives. They were later reunited with their father, but after a failed year, the children never heard from him again. Sometime later, one of his brothers died at the age of fifteen. He attended St. Edward's School as a child and intended to go on to Oxford University, but his relatives wanted him to go into banking. He worked in his uncle's office, in Westminster, for two years then went to work at the Bank of England as a clerk in 1879. He spent nearly thirty years there and became the Secretary of the Bank at the age of thirty-nine. He retired from the bank right before The Wind in the Willows was published in 1908. He wrote essays on topics that included smoking, walking and idleness. Many of the essays were published as the book Pagan Papers (1893) and the five orphan characters featured in the papers were developed into the books The Golden Age (1895) and Dream Days (1898). The Wind in the Willows (1908) was based on bedtime stories and letters to his son and it is where the characters Rat, Badger, Mole and Toad were created. In 1930, Milne's stage version was brought to another audience in Toad of Toad Hall. Grahame died on July 6, 1932.

Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego.

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