Friday, March 2, 2012

The British Pan


I am currently reading The Goat Foot God. I keep thinking that Hugh, the main character, reminds me of Mr. Toad in Wind in the Willows, running about in his motor car with his leather coat and cap. In this book, he had just found out that his deseased wife had always had a lover, so he plans to fill his empty life with a search for the Greek god, Pan.

Then I saw today that a usually omitted chapter of Wind and the Willows is the talk of England. And...guess what...it's about Pan. Hugh and Mr. Toad have more in common than liking to drive fast!

Both books are about desire, physical and intellectual, the need to travel, to stimulate the senses, to experience life. I'm thrilled to find this connection, so I found the chapter online and read it. Mole and Rat see Pan and worship him, then the demi-god erases the memory from them so the beauty of it won't spoil the rest of their lives and " all the after-lives of little animals."
http://www.literaturepage.com/read/windinthewillows-77.html

`O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.'

I have two reasons to be facinated by this story.  First, my son was in the play, Wind in the Willows when he was very young, and thought he'd never get a part that wasn't "a small furry animal." Although it was a children's production, the director drafted some adults to play the human parts and I acted as both a washer woman and a gypsy. What fun!! And yes, that chapter was left out.

Second, the reason I'm reading The Goat Food God is that I am dreaming up a fantasy book that includes a manifestation of The Green Man, which, it turns out, is the British version of Pan. I love when everything ties up neatly, don't you?



"One does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and, if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can't criticize it, because it is criticizing us. But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don't be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgment on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgment on yourself. You may be worthy: I don't know, But it is you who are on trial." 
 A.A. Milne


2 comments:

  1. Interesting! I love that illustration of Pan with the little animals on the log. I wonder why that section is usually omitted?

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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    1. From what I'm seeing, many people in Britian were facinated by Greek Mytology and Pan before WW1. About the time of the first season of Downton Abbey, actually.

      I'm sure some publishers felt uneasy about including a scene where the animals worshiped a being that some modern Christians equate with the devil.

      In fact, I'm discovering that the Knights Templar may have had some Pan worship going on. At least a god in nature worship. And the Catholic church wiped them out (as best they could) as a result.

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