The Wind in the Willows (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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When Mole decides he has had enough tiresome spring-cleaning for one day, the scrappy nonesuch throws down his broom and bolts out of his house looking for fun and adventure. He quickly finds it in the form of the Water Rat, who takes the wide-eyed Mole boating and introduces him to the mysteries of life on the river and in the Wild Wood. Mole also meets Ratty’s good friends: the kindly, solid Badger and the irrepressible Toad. Soon, the quartet’s escapadesincluding car crashes, a sojourn in jail, and a battle with the weasels who try to take over Toad Hallbecome the talk of the animal kingdom.
Filled with familiar human types disguised as animals, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, like all exemplary children’s literature, has always appealed greatly to grown-ups as well. Though first published in 1908, when motor-cars” were new and rare, The Wind in the Willows presents surprisingly contemporaryand uproariously funnyportraits of speed-crazed Mr. Toad, generous Badger, poetic Ratty, and newly-emancipated Mole. And lurking all the while within the humor and good spirits, Grahame’s deeply felt commentary on courage, generosity, and above all, friendship.
Then Toad burst out laughing. ‘All right, Ratty,’ he said. ‘It’s only my way, you know. And it’s not such a very bad house, is it? You know you rather like it yourself. Now, look here. Let’s be sensible. You are the very animals I wanted. You’ve got to help me. It’s most important!’ ‘It’s about your rowing, I suppose,’ said the Rat, with an innocent air. ‘You’re getting on fairly well, though you splash a good bit still. With a great deal of patience, and any quantity of coaching, you may—’
time, toasting your toes before a blazing fire, with all your own nice things about you!’ The Rat paid no heed to his doleful self-reproaches. He was running here and there, opening doors, inspecting rooms and cupboards, and lighting lamps and candles and sticking them up everywhere. ‘What a capital little house this is!’ he called out cheerily. ‘So compact! So well planned! Everything here and everything in its place! We’ll make a jolly night of it. The first thing we want is a good fire; I’ll
the old ford used to be, in bygone days before they built the bridge?’ ‘I know it well,’ said the Mole. ‘But why should Otter choose to watch there?’ ‘Well, it seems that it was there he gave Portly his first swimming lesson,’ continued the Rat. ‘From that shallow, gravelly spit near the bank. And it was there he used to teach him fishing, and there young Portly caught his first fish, of which he was so very proud. The child loved the spot, and Otter thinks that if he came wandering back from
clever, how clever, how very clev—’ A slight noise at a distance behind him made him turn his head and look. O horror! O misery! O despair! About two fields off, a chauffeur in his leather gaiters and two large rural policemen were visible, running towards him as hard as they could go! Poor Toad sprang to his feet and peltedca away again, his heart in his mouth. ‘O my!’ he gasped, as he panted along, ‘what an ass I am! What a conceited and headless ass! Swaggering again! Shouting and singing
Following the commentary, a series of questions seeks to filter Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows through a variety of points of view and bring about a richer understanding of this enduring work. Comments THE ATHENÆUM A simple-hearted Mole, a Water Rat of a poetical temperament, and a wealthy, boastful, and extravagant Toad, with a fine Tudor mansion and a passion for motor-cars, are the principal personages in Mr. Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. There is also a