Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Coping with a happy childhood…

September 12th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

The Enchanted Places by Christopher Milne, 1974

This is one of the best autobiographies I have read; perhaps because it has a fascinating theme, satisfyingly discussed – as well as being very well written, by someone whose personality was sympathetic to me.

The main explicit theme is that of living (up to age 52 at the time of writing) with the strange and vast fame of being Christopher Robin from the four books published by his father in a four year period from 1924-8: two collections of poems – When we were very young, and Now we are six; and two volumes of Winnie-the-Pooh stories – Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

Christopher Robin’s response to these books was positive as a young boy, but became negative as an older child, adolescent and young adult; mainly because he was an exceptionally shy and sensitive person (a trait inherited, with interest, from grandfather Milne, he tells us). Try as he might, he simply never got used-to the endless parade of people who made comments about this; and never was able to react spontaneously and appropriately – but became tongue tied and embarrassed. However, writing the autobiography was a coming-to-terms with the whole situation – and this provides a satisfying sense of closure to the book.

The implicit theme, which really gripped me, was the question: What to do with the rest of your life, after having a very happy childhood?

This was also the question that dominated the life of Christopher Robin’s father – AA Milne himself; and consequently Christopher writes extremely well about the father with whom (especially aged 9-18, after his Nanny had left) he had such a close and empathic relationship.

It is also a question which has been very much a part of my own life trajectory; since I too had a very happy childhood including early-middle teen years, and I too felt (for a long time) that adult life did not remotely match-up. Indeed, according to the most vivid and cherished memories, one of the best aspects of being a non-child was the reawakening triggered by loving relationships with younger children – first my brother, later my own children.

Neither Christopher Robin nor his father ever came to terms with this, or found a way of regarding post-childhood life as anything other than a let-down – to be escaped-from to some extent, but never integrated with the world of work, chores, and shallow public interactions.

 

Read the whole thing at Bruce Charlton’s Notions

Comments (1)
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September 12th, 2017 05:48:39
1 comment

G.
September 13, 2017

Brilliant. I had not seen the problem clearly, but once you lay it out, its obvious.

For me, a big part is having children of your own and making sure to take time to enjoy them.

http://www.jrganymede.com/2017/05/22/the-truth-of-nostalgia/#more-19638

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